Metals

Eighty percent of all elements on earth are metals

As component of many rocks and minerals metals are ubiquitous in the environment. Many metals and metalloids are essential to living organisms. Their various bonding forms and oxidation states, so called species, play an important role in the control and action of innumerable metabolic reactions.

However, not all metals are essential and some of them may be toxic at rather low doses depending on the metal species, e.g. lead, cadmium, mercury, and thallium. Even essential metals may be toxic at higher doses, e.g. selenium, cobalt, and chromium.

During anthropogenic activities substantial metal concentrations may be released into the environment. Environmentally relevant are mainly the metal salts and their ions. They can be available to humans, animals and plants. The main exposure routes are respiratory organs, skin and food. Some metal compounds are readily accumulated by organisms (bioaccumulation) and enriched in the food web (biomagnification).

Guidelines for Chemical Analysis: Determination of the Elemental Content of Environmental Samples using ICP-MS

Guidelines for Chemical Analysis: Determination of the Elemental Content of Environment Samples using ICP-OES

Substances

Magnesium Naturally occurring non-toxic alkaline earth metal
Potassium Naturally occurring alkali metal
Calcium Ubiquitous alkaline earth metal, constituent of many minerals
Chromium Naturally occurring transition metal
Manganese Naturally occurring transition metal
Iron Naturally occurring transition metal
Cobalt Naturally occurring transition metal
Nickel Naturally occurring transition metal
Copper Common metal widely used by humans
Zinc Rather common element which occurs mainly in ores
Strontium Alkaline earth metal with high reactivity that occurs naturally only in compounds with other elements
Cadmium Rare metal which in nature is mostly associated with zinc ores
Barium Alkaline earth metal which occurs naturally in rocks and minerals
Mercury Naturally occurring highly toxic transition metal, which is liquid at standard conditions for temperature and pressure
Thallium Rare element which occurs naturally as trace element in many minerals
Lead Naturally occurring poisonous heavy metal

Specimen

Zebra mussel Common mussel species as invasive animal in rivers and lakes with high information level for water pollution
Bream Bioindicator in rivers and lakes
Suspended particulate matter Fine insoluble mineral or organic particles in the water phase
Common bladder wrack Common brown alga of the coastal areas of the North and Baltic Sea
Blue mussel One of the most important edible mussel species common in the North and Baltic Sea
Eelpout As the only viviparous fish in German nearshore waters, it is a bioindicator in nearshore coastal marine ecosystems.
Herring gull Inshore, the herring gull mainly feeds from the sea: upon fish, mussels, and crabs.
Common spruce A major primary producer in semi-natural and anthropogenic affected ecosystems.
Pine A major primary producer in semi-natural and anthropogenic affected ecosystems.
Lombardy poplar A deciduous tree typical of ecosystems close to dense conurbations and an indicator for the characterisation of the immission situation during the vegetation period.
Beech As the most dominant deciduous tree species in Central Europe, it plays a significant role in most nearly natural and also anthropogenically influenced forest ecosystems up to an altitude of 1100 m.
Roe deer, one-year-old The roe deer is the most common of the larger herbivores (first order-consumer) to be found in the wild in Europe.
Feral pigeon A pigeon species home in nearly every city.
Earthworm (Aporrectodea longa) As an organism living at ground level, it is a major driver of the decomposition of organic material (e.g. plant litter).
Earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris) As an organism living at ground level, it is a major driver of the decomposition of organic material (e.g. plant litter).
Soil 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.
Students Student groups with an even number of female and male students at the age of 20 to 29.

Sampling area

BR/NP Berchtesgaden The only high mountains national park in Germany and an area of the Limestone Alps with international relevance
Saarländischer Verdichtungsraum Important, old-industrialised conurbation in Germany.
Bornhöveder Seengebiet Main water divide between the North- and Baltic Sea
Rhein Longest river in Germany
NP Bayerischer Wald Germany's first national park
NP Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park in the largest brackish water (Bodden) habitat of the world.
BR/NP Wattenmeere National park in the world largest connected sand and mud flats.
Elbe Fourth largest river basin in Central Europe
Verdichtungsraum Halle-Leipzig Region in the chemical triangle of Central Germany
NP Harz Germany's largest forest national park
Solling Second highest and largest low mountain range in Northern Germany
BR Pfälzerwald Germany's largest connected forest area in a range of low mountains
Oberbayerisches Tertiärhügelland The Upper Bavarian Tertiary Uplands are a part of the Southern German Molasse Basin
Donau Second largest river in Europe
Sampling sites (humans) 4 university cities as sampling areas.

Sampling period

1981 - 2017