Researchers in Switzerland have developed a method of modelling heavy metal emissions from road traffic.
Many heavy metal pollutants such as cadmium and lead are toxic at fairly low concentrations and can poison biological organisms if they are accumulated. A variety of heavy metal contaminants can enter the environment from road traffic emissions. Once released into the environment, these pollutants can enter groundwater and contaminate the soil.
Now Michele Steiner and co-workers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have developed a model describing heavy metal emissions from road traffic. This model describes metal fluxes into the roadside environment as a function of the distance from the road. The model distinguishes between three different pollutant transport mechanisms (road run-off, spray and drift), and was applied to a case study of Burgdorf, Switzerland.
The team found that up to 50% of the heavy metal emissions from road traffic could be collected and treated with the design and implementation of appropriate road run-off treatment systems.