Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 111–128 | Cite as

Impacts of Coal-Fired Power Plants on Trace Metals and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Lake Sediments in Central Alberta, Canada

  • W. F. Donahue
  • E. W. Allen
  • D. W. Schindler


Trace metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were analyzed in sediment cores from three central Alberta lakes to determine the contributions of local coal-fired power plants to contaminant loadings. In Wabamun Lake, with four power plants built since 1950 within a 35-km radius, sediment concentrations of mercury, copper, lead, arsenic and selenium have increased by 1.2- to 4-fold. Trace metal enrichments were less pronounced in Lac Ste. Anne and Pigeon Lake, situated 20 km north and 70 km south of Wabamun Lake, respectively. Total Hg flux to Wabamun Lake sediments (21–32μg m−2 yr−1) has increased 6-fold since 1950, compared to 2- and 1.5-fold increases in Lac Ste. Anne and Pigeon Lake, respectively, since circa 1900. Total PAH flux to surface sediments was 730–1100μg m−2 yr−1 in Wabamun Lake, 290–420μg m−2 yr−1 in Lac Ste. Anne, and 140–240μg m−2 yr−1 in Pigeon Lake. Without adoption of pollution-abatement technology that compensates for increases in generating capacity, continued expansion of coal-burning industry in Alberta will result in increased contaminant deposition, primarily from local sources.


Coal combustion Mercury Pb210 dating Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Sediment core Trace metals 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. F. Donahue
    • 1
  • E. W. Allen
    • 2
  • D. W. Schindler
    • 2
  1. 1.Freshwater Research LtdEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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