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Concept: Smelting


In this article, we focus on the analysis of dyed textile fragments uncovered at an early Iron Age (11th-10th centuries BCE) copper smelting site during new excavations in the Timna Valley conducted by the Central Timna Valley (CTV) Project, as well as those found by the Arabah Expedition at the Hathor Temple (Site 200), dated to the Late Bronze/early Iron Ages (13th-11th centuries BCE). Analysis by HPLC-DAD identified two organic dyestuffs, Rubia tinctorum L. and indigotin, from a plant source (probably Isatis tinctoria L.). They are among the earliest plants known in the dyeing craft and cultivated primarily for this purpose. This study provides the earliest evidence of textiles dyed utilizing a chemical dyeing process based on an industrial dyeing plant from the Levant. Moreover, our results shed new light on the society operating the copper mines at the time, suggesting the existence of an elite that was interested in these high quality textiles and invested efforts in procuring them by long-distance trade.

Concepts: Iron, Copper, Bronze Age, Levant, Smelting, Mesopotamia, Iron Age, 2nd millennium BC


Present day lead pollution is an environmental hazard of global proportions. A correct determination of natural lead levels is very important in order to evaluate anthropogenic lead contributions. In this paper, the anthropogenic signature of early metallurgy in Southern Iberia during the Holocene, more specifically during the Late Prehistory, was assessed by mean of a multiproxy approach: comparison of atmospheric lead pollution, fire regimes, deforestation, mass sediment transport, and archeological data. Although the onset of metallurgy in Southern Iberia is a matter of controversy, here we show the oldest lead pollution record from Western Europe in a continuous paleoenvironmental sequence, which suggests clear lead pollution caused by metallurgical activities since ~3900cal BP (Early Bronze Age). This lead pollution was especially important during Late Bronze and Early Iron ages. At the same time, since ~4000cal BP, an increase in fire activity is observed in this area, which is also coupled with deforestation and increased erosion rates. This study also shows that the lead pollution record locally reached near present-day values many times in the past, suggesting intensive use and manipulation of lead during those periods in this area.

Concepts: Copper, Erosion, Tin, Neolithic, Prehistory, Bronze Age, Smelting, Iron Age


The Flin Flon, Manitoba copper smelter was Canada’s largest point source of mercury emissions until its closure in 2010 after ~80 years of operation. The objective of this study was to understand the variables controlling the local ground-level air mercury concentrations before and after this major point source reduction. Total gaseous mercury (TGM) in air, mercury in precipitation, and other ancillary meteorological and air quality parameters were measured pre and post-smelter closure, and mercury speciation measurements in air were collected post-closure. The results showed that TGM was significantly elevated during the time period when the smelter operated (4.1 ± 3.7 ng m-3), decreased only 20% during the year following its closure, and remained ~2-fold above background levels. Similar trends were observed for mercury concentrations in precipitation. Several lines of evidence indicated that while smelter stack emissions would occasionally mix down to the surface resulting in large spikes in TGM concentrations (up to 61 ng m-3), the largest contributor to elevated TGM concentrations before and after smelter closure was from surface-air fluxes from mercury-enriched soils and/or tailings. These findings highlight the ability of legacy mercury, deposited to local landscapes over decades from industrial activities, to significantly affect local air concentrations via emissions/re-emissions.

Concepts: Measurement, Precipitation, Atmosphere, Meteorology, C, Furnace, Smelting, Flin Flon


The effect of redox metals such as iron and copper on multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been intensively studied. However, the origin of these disorders remains uncertain. This review article critically describes the physiology of redox metals that produce oxidative stress, which in turn leads to cascades of immunomodulatory alteration of neurons in multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Iron and copper overload has been well established in motor neurons of these diseases' lesions. On the other hand, the role of other metals like cadmium participating indirectly in the redox cascade of neurobiological mechanism is less studied. In the second part of this review, we focus on this less conspicuous correlation between cadmium as an inactive-redox metal and multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, providing novel treatment modalities and approaches as future prospects.

Concepts: Iron, Hydrogen, Superoxide dismutase, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Aluminium, Metal, Zinc, Smelting


Globally, billions of individuals wash their hair in water, which acts as an exogenous metal source. Many studies which measure the metal levels found on human hair specifically aim to remove exogenous materials prior to analysis. While this is needed when using hair analysis to probe the impact of the local environment on endogenous metal levels, it’s not relevant for understanding exactly what is on hair as a result of contact with its daily environment. Understanding these levels are important, as the presence of redox active metals, such as copper and iron, can impact fibre health, either due to UV irradiation, or during the hair colouring process. A global hair sampling study of over 300 individuals from nine countries has been performed, and the combined endogenous and exogenous metals analysed. The levels measured vary widely, even within the narrow geography of each hair sampling location. The levels of calcium, magnesium, copper and iron were not correlated, and within each location there are expected to be individuals with high metal levels. Levels increased from hair root to tip for calcium, magnesium and copper, attributed to hair’s contact with the environment showing the impact of exogenous metals in the overall levels on hair. Levels of redox metals were comparable between individuals who coloured or did not colour their hair, although water hardness ions were statistically significantly higher for hair colouring individuals. Individuals who perceived their hair health as poor had higher metal levels on their hair. Controlling metals on hair, either by preventing their binding during environmental contact, or through controlling their ability to cause hair damage, should lead to improved consumer perceived hair health. © 2013 Society of Cosmetic Scientists and the Société Française de Cosmétologie.

Concepts: Iron, Hydrogen, Calcium, Chemical element, Aluminium, Metal, Electrolysis, Smelting


This study examines size-resolved heavy metal data for particles sampled near an urban site affected by non-ferrous metal smelting in China with a focus on how particle sizes impact regional respiratory deposition behavior. Particles with aerodynamic diameters between 0.43 and 9 μm were collected during winter haze episodes from December 2011 to January 2012. The results showed that concentrations of individual trace elements ranged from ∼10(-2)-∼10(4) ng/m(3). Mass size distributions exhibit that Cu, Zn, As, Se, Ag, Cd, TI, and Pb have unimodal peak in fine particles range (<2.1 μm); Al, Ti, Fe, Sr, Cr, Co, Ni, Mo, and U have unimodal peak in coarse range (>2.1 μm), and Be, Na, Mg, Ca, Ba, Th, V, Mn, Sn, Sb, and K have bimodal profiles with a dominant peak in the fine range and a smaller peak in the coarse range. The total deposition fluxes of trace elements were estimated at 2.1 × 10(-2) - 4.1 × 10(3) ng/h by the MPPD model, and the region with the highest contribution was the head region (42% ± 13%), followed by the tracheobronchial region (11% ± 3%) and pulmonary region (6% ± 1%). The daily intake of individual element for humans occurs via three main exposure pathways: ingestion (2.3 × 10(-4) mg/kg/day), dermal contact (2.3 × 10(-5) mg/kg/day), and inhalation (9.0 × 10(-6) mg/kg/day). A further health risk assessment revealed that the risk values for humans were all above the guidelines of the hazard quotient (1) and cancer risk (10(-6)), indicating that there are potential non-cancer effects and cancer risks in this area.

Concepts: Oxygen, Iron, Risk, Metal, Copper, Trigraph, Lead, Smelting


Lead (Pb) concentrations and isotopic compositions from soils, dusts and aerosols from public land and residential lots adjacent to the copper and Pb mine and smelter at Mount Isa, Australia, were examined to understand the sources and risks of environmental Pb exposure. Urban soil samples contain elevated Pb concentrations (mean 1560 mg/kg), of which 45-85% of the Pb is bioaccessible. The Pb isotopic composition of surface soils (0-2 cm), aerosols and dusts ((206)Pb/(207)Pb, (208)Pb/(207)Pb range: 1.049, 2.322-1.069, 2.345) are dominated by Pb derived from the Mount Isa Pb-zinc ore bodies. Underlying soil horizons (10-20 cm) have distinctly different Pb isotopic compositions ((206)Pb/(207)Pb, (208)Pb/(207)Pb range: 1.093, 2.354-1.212, 2.495). Surface soil-, dust- and aerosol-Pb are derived predominantly from smelter emissions and fugitive mining sources and not from in situ weathered bedrock. Remediation strategies should target legacy and ongoing sources of environmental Pb to mitigate the problem of Pb exposure at Mount Isa.

Concepts: Iron, Soil, Aluminium, Zinc, Copper, Lead, Charcoal, Smelting


High tech applications, primarily photovoltaics, have greatly increased demand for the rare and versatile but toxic element tellurium (Te). Here we examine dated lake sediment Te concentration profiles collected near potential point sources (metal smelters, coal mining/combustion facilities, oil sands operations) and from rural regions and remote natural areas of Canada. Te contamination was most prevalent near a Cu/Zn smelter where observed deposition infers 21 g Te released per metric ton (t) of Cu processed. Globally, 9,500 t is predicted to have been atmospherically deposited near Cu smelters post-1900. In a remote area of central Canada (Experimental Lakes Area; ELA), preindustrial Te deposition rates were equivalent to the estimated average global mass flux supplied from natural sources; however more surprisingly, modern Te deposition rates were 6-fold higher and comparable with Te measurements in precipitation. We therefore suggest that sediment cores reliably record atmospheric Te deposition and that anthropogenic activities have significantly augmented atmospheric Te levels, making it an emerging contaminant of potential concern. Lake water residence time was found to influence lake sediment Te inventories among lakes within a region. The apparent settling rate for Te was comparable to macronutrients (C, N, P), likely indicative of significant biological processing of Te.

Concepts: Lake, Sediment, Water pollution, Copper, Canada, Tellurium, Region, Smelting


Regulation of body iron occurs at cellular, tissue, and systemic levels. In healthy individuals, iron absorption and losses are minimal, creating a virtually closed system. In the setting of chronic kidney disease and hemodialysis (HD), increased iron losses, reduced iron absorption, and limited iron availability lead to iron deficiency. Intravenous (IV) iron therapy is frequently prescribed to replace lost iron, but determining an individual’s iron balance and stores can be challenging and imprecise, contributing to uncertainty about the long-term safety of IV iron therapy.

Concepts: Chronic kidney disease, Nephrology, Medicine, Iron, Individual, Artificial kidney, Iron supplements, Smelting


Optimal iron levels in patients on hemodialysis are currently unknown, and a higher level than that for the healthy population is usually set for such patients considering the use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents or the occurrence of chronic inflammation. However, excessive iron causes oxidative stress and impairment of its utilization by cells. Therefore we investigated the relationship between hemoglobin (Hb) level and iron status in hemodialysis patients to identify the optimal iron levels for patients undergoing hemodialysis.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Iron, Observational study, Anemia, Iron deficiency anemia, Iron deficiency, Iron metabolism, Smelting