Yakutsk is A Captive of Lead

VN Makarov1*

1Melnikov Permafrost Institute SB RAS, Yakutsk, Russia.

*Corresponding Author: VN Makarov, Melnikov Permafrost Institute SB RAS, Yakutsk, Russia,Tel: 7-4112-390-883; Fax: 7-4112-390-883; E-mail:vnmakarov@mpi.ysn.ru

Citation: VN Makarov (2019) Yakutsk is A Captive of Lead. SciEnvironm 2: 141.

Copyright: ©2019 VN Makarov, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Received: July 30, 2019; Accepted: August 10, 2019; Published: August 13, 2019.

Lead (Pb) is a heavy metal of Group IV (carbon group) in the Mendeleev periodic table characterized by low abundance and high toxicity. Lead has been extensively used by humans for centuries and is known to accumulate in various ecosystems.

Environmental pollution with Pb and its compounds is a major problem around the world. Due to the widespread use of Pb compounds, lead concentrations in humans have increased 100 times over the last 5000 years, reaching the level only 5 times lower than the exposure considered poisoning [1]. Unfortunately, Yakutsk, like many other Russian cities, suffers from Pb pollution.

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Yakutsk is one of the largest cities located in the cryolithozone, founded in 1632. German engraving gives an idea of the city in the XVIII century (Figure 1).

  1. 3; the average concentrations above the oceans are an order of magnitude higher [2]. In Central Yakutia, the Pb concentration in atmospheric air is 2.2 ng/m3, which is within the range of 1.5 to 4.4 ng/m3 reported for Siberian regions [3].

The major sources of Pb in urban air are emissions from vehicles (approximately 1 kg/yr per vehicle), printing industry, and burning of solid waste, coal and oil. In Yakutsk, where the total number of vehicles (automobiles, trucks, and buses) is 112,000 (2018), the total Pb emission rate into the atmosphere is estimated to be about 112 t/yr.

Pb contents in atmospheric aerosols in Yakutsk vary between 40 and 580 ng/m3, which are close to the values for suburban areas and almost an order of magnitude lower than the maximum values observed in the atmosphere of Russian cities (Table 1).

Table 1: Pb content in atmospheric air and aerosols.

Table 2: Pb content in atmospheric aerosols of northern cities, ng/m3 [5].

City Mean Min. Max. MPL
Tiksi 1.2 0.17 3.0 300
Norilsk 35.0 6.4 90.0
Yakutsk 223 23 580

Table 3:
Pb levels in snowcover in selected cities of the Russian Far East.

Snow (liquid phase), µg/L MPLAL
City Background Mean Max.



Yakutsk 0.1 7.1 70 10
Chita [6] 1.0 .3.1 69.5
Snow (solid phase), mg/kg MPLsoil
Yakutsk 0.5 125 500 32
Yakutsk (airport) 500 2000
Chita [6] - 10.4 30.5
Blagoveshchensk [7] 29.8 91 -

Note: MPLAL - maximum permissible level set for aquatic life protection, MPLsoil – maximum permissible level in soil.

Table 4: Pb levels in natural waters, µg/L. 

Natural waters

Pb MPLAL/MPLH Reference
Groundwater in the permafrost province 1.5 10/30 [8]
River water 1.0 [9]
Groundwater (J1 aquifer system) 0.020 - 0.10 10/30  
Cryopegs 7.1-81.4 [10]
Lakes 0.5-20  
Lena River (near Yakutsk) 0.05-0.3  

Note: MPLAL - maximum permissible level for aquatic life protection; MPLH - maximum permissible level for human health protection.

Table 5: Lead concentrations in terrestrial plants and Yakutsk reed, mg/kg.

Clarkes in terrestrial plants [4,12,13]

Terrestrial plants [8,14]
Reed, Yakutsk [15]




Pb content in reed roots and stems

Roots (n=19)

Stems (n=18)

Mean Min. Max. Mean Min. Max.
35 7 150 5.2 2 20


Table 6: Maximum concentration of Pb accumulated by aquatic plants during the growing season.


Vegetation Pb, mg/kg dry wt. Reference
Aquatic plants 580 [16]


Reed, roots 150 [15]

Reed, stems 20


Table 7: Pb and trace element concentrations in the main geological units relative to crustal abundance [17].

Formation and dominant rocks
Concentration ratio


1.0 – 1.5 1.5 – 2.0 >2.0-5.0

Innikan Formation - ?1 in limestone, dolomites

Ti, Cr,?, Zn Yb Li, Mn, Co, Ga, Ge, Sn, W, Pb, Ag, Sn Be, Sc, Ag, Cu, ?s, Y, Nb, La, Yb, Bi, Sb, B, V, Ni, Tl - Mo, Au

Tympin Formation - ?2 tm limestone, dolomites, marls

Zn, Pb Mn, Yb Li, Ti, Cr, V, Co, Ni, Cu, Ga, Y, Nb, W, Mo, Ge Be, B, Sc, Mn, ?s, La, Yb, Sb, Bi, Tl, Sb, Au, Mo W -

Ukugut Formation - J1 uk sandstones, conglomerates


Mo, W Li, Be, B, Sc, Cu, Au ?s, Nb, Yb, Sb, Bi, Tl, Zn V, Mn, Ni, Ge, Ag, Sn ?, Ti, Co, Pb, Au Cr, Zn, Ga

Tyung Formation - J1 tn sandstone, clay, sands


Ag, Mo, B, Cu, Ge, W Be, B, Zn, Pb, Ni, La, Yb, Tl, Sc, Mn, V, Co, Nb, Sn P, Li, Cr, Zn, Ga, Y Ti

Yakut Formation - J2 jak sandstones, sands


B, Ni, Mo

Li, Be, Sc, Mn, Cu, Ge, Nb, La, Yb, Au, Co, Ag P, Ga, Sn, W, Pb Cr, Zn

Mavrinskaya suite-laQII-III mv sands

Li, V

B, P, Mn, Co, Ni, Zn, Ag Be, Sc, Ti, Cu, Ge, Mo, La, Yb, Tl, Cr, Ga, Y, Nb, Sn, Pb  


II river terrace sands


B, V, Co, Cu, La, Ag,Yb

Be, Mn, Ni, Ge, Au, P, Ti Mo Sn, Pb Zn, Nb, W

Cr, Ga

I river terrace sands

Li, B Cr, Mn Yb V, Ni, Cu, W Mo Be, Ge, Sn, Pb, Sc, Co, Zn, Y, Ag La, Au P, Ti, Ga,




Table 8: Soil Pb concentrations in urban and rural communities of Yakutia, mg/kg.








 47.0  5000.0


 12.0  21.0


 49.0  100.0


 12.0  20.0


 56.0  1000.0


 24.0  25.0


 58.0  500.0


 15.0  20.0


 14.0  100.0


 10.0  15.0





 10.0  15.0





 10.0  12.0





 10.0  15.0


 60.0  100.0


 24.6  50.0




Table 9: Main diseases, syndromes and symptoms associated with Pb deficiency and excess in humans and farm animals [22].

Main diseases, syndromes and signs

Pb deficiency

Pb excess

Lead-deficient conditions in humans are not known

Chronic lead poisoning: microcytic anaemia

Pb deficiency in animals causes an iron metabolism disorder with the development of signs of iron deficiency



Neurological disorders: lead encephalopathy (lethargy, anxiety, irritability, headaches, hallucinations, memory loss)

Peripheral lead neuropathy associated with impaired nerve conduction

Colic is an early symptom of Pb poisoning.

Lead cardiomyopathy