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 . Unfortunately, Yakutsk, like many other Russian cities, suffers from Pb pollution.
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).
3; the average concentrations above the oceans are an order of magnitude higher . 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 .
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 .
Table 3: Pb levels in snowcover in selected cities of the Russian Far East.
Snow (liquid phase), µg/L
Snow (solid phase), mg/kg
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.
Groundwater in the permafrost province
Groundwater (J1 aquifer system)
0.020 - 0.10
Lena River (near Yakutsk)
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 
Pb content in reed roots and stems
Table 6: Maximum concentration of Pb accumulated by aquatic plants during the growing season.
Pb, mg/kg dry wt.
Table 7: Pb and trace element concentrations in the main geological units relative to crustal abundance .
Formation and dominant rocks
1.0 – 1.5
1.5 – 2.0
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