Roman pollution reaches Iceland

A new study, which appeared in the April 2009 issue of the journal Science of the Total Environment shows that air pollution from 1st and 2nd century Roman mining and metalworking operations has shown up in an Icelandic salt marsh.

The research was headed by William Marshall, a research fellow in geoscience at the University of Plymouth in the U.K.

The lead pollution, taken from samples at Vidarholmi, on the island’s west coast, is believed to have traveled to Iceland from mining operations in Roman Britain. “Detecting ancient Roman pollution in an Icelandic salt marsh provides a cautionary tale for those who expect an ocean or a mountain range to protect them from the impact of highly polluting factories on other continents,” said Thomas Peterson, a research meteorologist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., who was not part of the study.

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