2.27 Fluoride in Vegetation

2.27 - Fluoride in Vegetation

Here you can see results from measurements of fluoride in various types of vegetation in the vicinity of the aluminum smelter.

 

 

Results

Concentration of Fluoride in vegetation (including ruminant forage) at designated sample plots within a specified radius of smelter.

Figure 1. Sampling sites for grass in Reyðarfjörður.Figure 1. Sampling sites for grass in Reyðarfjörður.

Labels: Grazing area and fields north of Sléttuá river (Beitarsvæði og tún norðan Sléttuár), Grazing area and fields south of Sléttuá river (Beitarsvæði og tún sunnan Sléttuár), Hólmanes reserve (Friðlandið Hólmanesi), Dilution area (þynningarsvæði), Urban area (Þéttbýlið)

Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál 2017
Updated: October 16 2017


Results 2004-2016 (monitoring a – c).


Fluoride in grass

Figure 2. Average concentration of fluoride in grass (µg/g) 2007 - 2016, by location of sampling sitesa

Labels: Within dilution area (innan þynningarsvæðis), urban area (þéttbýli), Hólmanes reserve (Hólmanes friðland), grazing land and hayfield south (Beitarsvæði og tún suður) and grazing land and hayfield north (Beitarsvæði og tún, norðan).

a: The sampling sites were changed in 2013 and 2014;  11 sites were added in 2013 and 7 sites removed in 2014.

Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál 2017.Figure 2. Average concentration of fluoride in grass (µg/g) 2007 - 2016, by location of sampling sitesa
Updated:  September 2017


Sulphur in grassa

Figure 3. Average level of sulphur (mg/g) in dried samples of grass from 30 sites in Reyðarfjörður in the years 2004 (background level), 2005, 2007-2010 and 2015. The sampling sites are grouped by direction and distance from smelter's chimney. East (E), west (W) and south (S). Number of samples is given in parenthesis. The bars are the standard error of the average, showing the variability between sampling sites.

a: Monitored every five years. Next monitoring in 2020.

Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál 2017Figure 3. Average level of sulphur (mg/g) in dried samples of grass from 30 sites in Reyðarfjörður in the years 2004 (background level), 2005, 2007-2010 and 2015.
Updated: Septbember 2017


Concentration of fluoride in moss, lichens, and broadleaves at 30 sites in Reyðarfjörður.


Fluoride in moss

Figure 4. Distribution pattern of fluoride in moss (µg/g) the year 2004 (background level) and 2007 - 2016.  Directions:  A:  East, V: West and S: South   and distance (km) from smelter  chimney.  Number of samples is displayed in parenthesis. Standard error of the average is also shown.

Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál 2017Figure 4. Distribution pattern of fluoride in moss (µg/g) the year 2004 (background level) and 2007 - 2016.
Updated: September 2017


Fluoride in lichens

Figure 5. Distribution pattern of fluoride in lichens (µg/g) from the year 2004 (background level) and 2007 -2016. Direction:  A-East, V-West and S-South and distance from smelter chimney.  Number of samples is given in parenthesis.  Standard error of the average is also shown.

Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál 2017Figure 5. Distribution pattern of fluoride in lichens (µg/g) from the year 2004 (background level) and 2007 -2016.
Updated: September 2017


Fluoride in leaves of bog bilberries

Figure 6. Distribution pattern of fluoride (µg/g) in leaves of bog bilberries from the year 2004 (background level) and 2007 - 2016.  Directions:  A-East, V-West and S-South and distance (km) from smelter chimney. Number of samples is given in parenthesis. Standard error of the average is also shown.

Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál 2017Figure 6. Distribution pattern of fluoride (µg/g) in leaves of bog bilberries from the year 2004 (background level) and 2007 - 2016.
Updated: September 2017


Fluoride in leaves of rowan

Figure 7. Annual average of fluoride (µg/g) in leaves of rowan (with standard error) in the years 2004 to 2016 in Reyðarfjörður. The data is based on 10 samples in the years 2004-2009, and 10 samples in the years 2010 - 2016.

Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál 2017Figure 7. Annual average of fluoride (µg/g) in leaves of rowan (with standard error) in the years 2004 to 2016 in Reyðarfjörður.
Updated:September 2017


Fluoride in coniferous leaves

Figure 8. Annual average of fluoride (µg/g) in coniferous leaves (with standard error) in the years 2004 to 2016 in Reyðarfjörður. The data is based on 10 samples in the years 2004-2009, and 10 samples in the years 2010 - 2016. The year on the horizontal axis is a reference to the sampling year.Figure 8. Annual average of fluoride (µg/g) in coniferous leaves (with standard error) in the years 2004 to 2016 in Reyðarfjörður.

Labels
   Nývöxtur:                       New growth
   Vöxtur fyrra árs:             Previous year growth

Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál 2017
Updated: September 2017


Fluoride in bog bilberries and northern crowberries

Figure 9. Concentration of fluoride in bog bilberries and northern crowberries (µg/g) in 5 sampling sites in Reyðarfjörður in the summer 2016. One sample was taken on each sampling site.

Figure 9. Concentration of fluoride in bog bilberries and northern crowberries (µg/g) in 5 sampling sites in Reyðarfjörður in the summer 2016. One sample was taken on each sampling site.

Labels:

   Bláber:                                                  bog bilberries
   Krækiber:                                              northern crowberries
   Vegir:                                                    roads
   Þynningarsvæði skv. starfsleyfi:             dilution area according to business license
   Þéttbýli:                                                 urban area
   Álverssvæði:                                          smelter site
   Friðlandið Hólmanesi:                            Hólmanes reserve    


Fluoride in northern crowberries

Figure 10. Concentration of fluoride (µg/g) in northern crowberries from 5 sampling sites in Reyðarfjörður from 2006-2016.  One sample was taken on each sampling site.Figure 10. Concentration of fluoride (µg/g) in northern crowberries from 5 sampling sites in Reyðarfjörður from 2006-2016.  One sample was taken on each sampling site.


Fluoride in bog bilberries

Figure 11. Concentration of fluoride in bog bilberries and northern crowberries (µg/g) in 5 sampling sites in Reyðarfjörður in the summer 2016. One sample was taken on each sampling site.Figure 11. Concentration of fluoride (µg/g) in bog bilberries from five sampling sites in Reyðarfjörður 2006-2016.  One sample collected at each site (Figure 10).

Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál 2017
Updated: September 2017


Fluoride in rhubarb

Figure 12. Annual average concentration of fluoride (µg/g) in dryweight Figure 12. Annual average concentration of fluoride (µg/g) in dryweight of  rhubarb 2004-2016 in Reyðarfjörður.of  rhubarb 2004-2016 in Reyðarfjörður.

Labels
   Stilkar:           Stalks
   Lauf:              Leaves

Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál 2017
Updated: September 2017


Fluoride in potatoes

Figure 13.  Concentration of fluoride (µg/g) in potatoes (kartafla) and potato leafs (lauf) from three sampling sites in the summers 2004, 2011-2016 and two sampling sites in 2007-2010. The year 2014 no sample was taken from V2. Instead sample was taken from new site, V6.Figure 13.  Concentration of fluoride (µg/g) in potatoes (kartafla) and potato leafs (lauf) from three sampling sites in the summers 2004, 2011-2016 and two sampling sites in 2007-2010.

Labels:
    Kartafla:           potato
    Lauf:                leafs

Source: Alcoa Fjarðaál 2017
Updated: September 2017


 


Monitoring Protocol


Metrics; What is measured?

  1. Concentration of F in vegetation (including ruminant forage) at designated sample plots within a specified radius of smelter (Project effect: direct).

Monitoring Protocol

Samples collected from designated stations during the growing season:

  • 40 samples of coniferous leaves, broadleaves, vegetables and vegetable leaves collected in Reyðarfjörður (ten samples for each vegetation type) and analyzed for F, N, S and heavy metals
  • 30 samples of forage grass collected in Reyðarfjörður and analyzed for F and S/N ratio
  • Mosses, lichens, and broadleaf plant collected from 30 stations and analyzed for F
  • Lichen on rock photographed at 50 locations in Reyðarfjörður.
  • Ecological survey: Vegetative species composition and vegetation cover (%) recorded in 150 vegetation quadrats in 30 sample stations around Reydarfjordur. Quadrats photographed.

Vegetation in Reyðarfjörður visually inspected for fluoride impact 

Data collection

  • Baseline sampling conducted from 2004 - 2005
  • Lichen (plots) and vegetation quadrats photographed annually from 2005 - 2008
  • Vegetation visually inspected once a year from 2004 - 2008
  • 2007 and 2008 samples collected every month during the growing season for up to six months
    • 30 each for moss, lichens, broadleaves and forage grass
    • 10 each for conifer (previous year growth), 10 conifer (new growth), broadleaf tree tissue and vegetable.
    • 2007 and 2008 ecological survey in 150 quadrats.

Targets

Coniferous leaves, broadleaves, and vegetables: >0.4 µg/m3

Grasses: >3 µg/m3

Lichens & Mosses: >0.3 µg/m3

Source: AW Davidson and L. Weinstein; EIA, 2001

Countermeasures

Alcoa Fjarðaál has direct effect by its operations.  Targets are set to be met.

See:  Alcoa and the environment

Changes to indicator and metrics

In fourth phase of the initiative the numbers of the indicators were changed. This indicator was originally number 21.1 and is referenced as such in early documents of the project.

The original metric was „Concentration of F (µg/kg-DW) in vegetation (ruminant forage and berries) at designated sample plots within a specified radius of smelter“.  Based on expert consultation (Alan W. Davison & Len H. Weinstein) measuring unit and berries was removed from metric.  The changed metric is:  „Concentration of F in vegetation (including ruminant forage) at designated sample plots within a specified radius of smelter

Baseline


The background level of fluoride in vegetation varies with soil, species, type of leaf, age and the presence of natural sources of fluoride such as dust.  It is therefore impossible to state precise background concentrations of fluoride. However, the scientific literature shows that most samples are <5 μg F/ g (dry wt), a proportion may have up to 10 and some may have as high as 20 or so μg F/ g. Fruit, stalks and roots have much lower fluoride content than leaves.

Sample  Number of analysed samples Number of samples with

Maximum F content

μg/g

F < 5 μg/g F= 6-10 μg/g F= 11-20 μg/g
2004          
Conifer (Pinus, Picea)          
Current year 10 10 0 0 <3
Previous year 10 10 0 0 4
Broadleaf tree (rowan, Sorbus aucuparia) 10 9 0 0 21
Vegetables          
Strawberry fruit 1 0 1 0 10
Strawberry leaves 2 1 1 0 6
Rhubarb stalks 4 4 0 0 <3
Rhubarb leaves 4 0 0 2 94
Potato tubers 5 5 0 0 <3
Potato leaves 5 2 1 2 16
Grass 30 29 1 0 6
           
2005          
Broadleaf, wild species 30 28 1 1 11
Vegetables          
Rhubarb Stalks 10 10 0 0 <5
Rhubarb leaves 10 2 0 3 111
Potato leaves 2 1 1 0 6
Grass 30 25 5 0 10
Moss 30 12 12 5 29
Lichen 30 26 4 0 8

Interpretation

Most analyses fell within the expected range for background samples. One sample of rowan, most rhubarb leaves (not stalks, the edible part) and some moss samples contained higher fluoride concentrations than expected. One sample of strawberry fruit had slightly higher fluoride content than expected and so did some potato leaves. These deviations were investigated in 2004 and 2005 and it was concluded that:

  • The slightly high fluoride concentration in the strawberry fruit and potato leaves was probably due to dust / soil contamination. Washing fruit usually removes this material.
  • The one high rowan sample was due to contamination from burning waste near sampling site.
  • The high fluoride concentrations in rhubarb leaves were due to the fact that it is one of a small number of species that can accumulate fluoride from the soil. This was not previously known. Note that the edible stalks had low fluoride contents.
  • The elevated fluoride in the moss samples correlated with the presence of sources of dust from construction and roads (all dust and soil debris contains measurable amounts of fluoride).

Rationale for Indicator selection


Fluoride can adversely affect the growth and vitality of vegetation. Fluoride emitted from the Fjarðaál smelter could accumulate in vegetation in the immediate vicinity of the smelter.

Communities in East Iceland are concerned about the changes in their ecosystem if fluoride emissions exceed the tolerance threshold of local plants.

Fluoride can directly impact vegetation and could cause the localized extirpation of sensitive floral species. Fluoride accumulation is also hazardous to grazing mammals.

Vegetation could accumulate fluorides in concentrations that are hazardous to herbivorous mammals, and this in turn could influence humans if they eat those mammals.

Further reading


Fluoride - what is it and what are its effects on humans, Alan Davison 2015

Fluoride in vegatation. Baseline Report

The Environmental agency of Iceland publishes on its website information related to the business license of Alcoa Fjarðaál.  These include results from analysis, monitoring protocols and inspection reports.