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.

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

Recommended profiles


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.


Lead Naturally occurring poisonous heavy metal

Sampling area

Leipzig, Rosental Park area in the centre of Leipzig city
Revier Lutherstein The sampling site Revier Lutherstein is located in a forestal area at an altitude of 180 m.
Wimbachtal The sampling site Wimbachtal is located in a high valley at an altitude of 1100 m.
Naturdenkmal Stempelsbuche The sampling site Naturdenkmal Stempelsbuche is located in a spruce forest within the catchment area of the upper Ilse river at an altitude of 640 m.
Friedrichshäuser Bruch The sampling site Friedrichshäuser Bruch is located in the forest district Sievershausen at an altitude of about 500 m.
Edersberg The sampling site Edersberg is located in a mixed forest at an altitude of about 410 m.
Großpalmberg The sampling site Großpalmberg is located in a mixed forest at an altitude of about 500 m.
SB-Staden The sampling site SB-Staden is located in a floodplain between the Saar and the city of Saarbrücken.
Warndt 2 The sampling site Warndt 2 is located in the forest district Warndtweiher at an altitude of 247 m.
Oberes Steinbachtal Landscaped formed by mining
Forellenbuchet The sampling site Forellenbuchet is located in the core zone of the National Park Bayerischer Wald at an altitude of 1000 m.