Lead in soil

Natural background concentrations cause high lead concentrations in soil from the German uplands Harz

Lead is a toxic heavy metal which is widely used by humans for numerous applications. In Germany, lead occurs for instance in the uplands Harz where it has been mined since the Middle Ages until end of the last century. However, high environmental concentrations as found at the ESB sampling site Naturdenkmal Stempelsbuche in the national park Harz still give evidence of the former mining activities. The relatively high lead concentrations in the organic layer indicate that also atmospheric deposition of lead originating from recent anthropogenic activities plays a role in soil contamination.

The routinely analysis of soil for lead was not continued after 2010.

Lead in the organic layer of soil
Fig. 1: Lead in the organic layer of soil Zoom in


Lead in the topsoil (A-Horizon)
Fig. 1: Lead in the topsoil (A-Horizon) Zoom in
Updated at: 2021-03-30


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  • Soil is livelihood and biosphere for humans, animals, plants and soil organisms. All the substances brought in are transported, transformed and/or accumulated in the soil.


Sampling area