Litter was collected from eight sites at distances as far as 33 km from an AI reduction plant in western Tennessee. As a result of an accumulation of fine litter (< 4.75 mm) the weight of the litter per unit area was abnormally high at the two sites within 2 km of the plant. Compared to litter collected far from the plant, it had a lower fiber content, was more sapric, and was less acid. Fluoride emissions from the plant were suggested as the probable cause of litter changes. Concentrations of water-extractable and acid-extractable F- in the litter, the 0- to 5-cm soil layer, and the 5- to 15-cm soil layer were strongly correlated with distance from the plant. Total acid-extractable F- in the litter and upper 15 cm of soil was about 41 times as much at the closest site (700 mg/kg) as at the most distant sites (12 and 16 mg/kg). In a bioassay of litter from our study sites, woodlice (Porcellio scaber Latr.) had an abnormally high mortality in litter that contained 440 mg/kg or more of acid-extractable F-. However, when F- was added as NaF to litter, a significant increase in mortality was observed only in treatments exceeding 800 mg/kg. The decrease in the rate of decomposition of the litter might eventually induce a deficiency of soil macronutrients, but none was detected.
Additional publication details
Changes in litter near an aluminum reduction plant