Trees can take up and assimilate contaminants from the soil, subsurface, and groundwater. Contaminants in the transpiration stream can become bound or incorporated into the annual rings formed in trees of the temperate zones. The chemical analysis of precisely dated tree rings, called dendrochemistry, can be used to interpret past plant interactions with contaminants. This investigation demonstrates that dendrochemistry can be used to generate historical scenarios of past contamination of groundwater by chlorinated solvents at a site in Verl, Germany. Increment cores from trees at the Verl site were collected and analyzed by energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) line scanning. The EDXRF profiles showed four to six time periods where tree rings had anomalously high concentrations of chlorine (Cl) as an indicator of potential contamination by chlorinated solvents.
Additional publication details
Dendrochemistry of multiple releases of chlorinated solvents at a former industrial site