Tracing Germanium Contamination from Coal-fired Power Plants Down the Chattahoochee-Apalachicola System: Implications for the Toxic Metalloids Arsenic and Selenium
Froelich, Philip N.
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Dissolved germanium (Ge) concentrations in rivers receiving ash pond effluents from coal-fired power plants (CFPP) in the Southeastern U.S. are enriched up to two orders of magnitude above natural levels. This anthropogenic Ge-signal has a large dynamic range that provides a unique "coal-fired" tracer that may be a harbinger for the other toxic metalloids As, Se and Sb. The average point-source Ge-escape factor for all river-CFPP systems for which we have coal flows is about 0.1 mg-Ge per kg-coal combusted. Scaling this Ge-escape factor to the coal ash systematics of other metalloids suggests several of Georgia's river systems may be approaching toxic levels, especially for Se.