Historic emissions from two zinc smelters have injured the forest on Blue Mountain near Palmerton, Pennsylvania, USA. Seedlings of soybeans and five tree species were grown in a greenhouse in a series of mixtures of smelter-contaminated and reference soils and then phytotoxic thresholds were calculated. As little as 10% Palmerton soil mixed with reference soil killed or greatly stunted seedlings of most species. Zinc was the principal cause of the phytotoxicity to the tree seedlings, although Mn and Cd may also have been phytotoxic in the most contaminated soil mixtures. Calcium deficiency seemed to play a role in the observed phytotoxicity. Exposed soybeans showed symptoms of Mn toxicity. A test of the effect of liming on remediation of the Zn and Mn phytotoxicity caused a striking decrease in Sr-nitrate extractable metals in soils and demonstrated that liming was critical to remediation and restoration.
Additional publication details
Phytotoxicity of zinc and manganese to seedlings grown in soil contaminated by zinc smelting