Anthropogenic Impact on Chemical Composition of the Biosphere

The biosphere represents an immense equilibrium system of chemical reactions. Perturbation of the equilibrium at one site may provoke uncontrolled change in the whole system, in spite of the fact that there are different compensating mechanisms (Le Chatelier's principle). We can say that chemical activity of mankind is almost compared now with the chemical work of all living matter. For instance, about 1017g of minerals are excavated annually from the Earth; this value already constitutes 5.5% in relation to 1.84 x 101 g of all living biomass.

This is in regard to the so-called 'gross' characteristics; if we look at 'information' ones, in particular atomic composition of excavated matter, then one can see that its composition significantly differs from the compositions of living matter, soil, and oceanic waters. Note that all these minerals are dispersed finally over the Earth surface. The impact on the metal cycles is most significant (Table 2).

Our technocivilization is a civilization of iron. About 10% of iron used is destroyed as a result of corrosion, friction, etc. If the amount of lost iron increases by a factor

Table 1 Global gas fluxes in the atmosphere from biosphere and anthroposphere

CO CH4 SO2 NO2 Total fluxes

Source (bln.tyr1) (106 tyr1) (106 tyr1) (106 tyr1) (bln. tyr1)

Natural 700 1900 200-300 310-1090 707.41-708.29

Anthropogenic 21.3-27 1100 130-210 30-110 22.92-29.12

Common 721.3-727 3000 330-510 340-1200 730.33-737.41

Table 2 Relation of metals in soil, ocean, living matter, and world economy with respect to iron concentration

Element

Soil

Ocean

Living matter

World economy

Fe

1

1

1

1

Al

1.8

1

0.5

1.5 x 10~2

Be

1.5 x 10~4

6 x

10~5

Traces

2 x 10~5

Cr

5 x 10~3

2x

10~3

1x

10-2

2 x 10~2

Mn

2.1 x 10~2

2x

10-1

1x

10-1

4 x 10~3

Co

2.5 x 10~4

5x

10-2

2x

10~3

3 x 10~4

Ni

1 x 10~3

2x

10-1

5x

10~3

4.5 x 10~4

Cu

5 x 10~4

3 x

10-1

2x

10-2

1 x 10~2

Zn

1 x 10~3

1

5 x

10-2

5 x 10~3

Mo

5 x 10~5

1

1 x

10~3

3 x 10~5

Ag

2.5 x 10~6

3x

10-2

Traces

1.7 x 10~4

Sn

2.5 x 10~4

3x

10-2

5x

10~3

1.3 x 10~4

Sb

5x

10-2

Traces

3 x 10~5

W

10

Traces

2.5 x 10~5

Hg

2.5 x 10~5

3x

10~3

1x

10~5

1 x 10~5

Au

4 x

10-4

Traces

3 x 10~6

Pb

2.5 x 10~4

3x

10~3

5x

10~3

4.5 x 10~3

Vinogradov AP (1959) Chemical Evolution of the Earth. Moscow: USSR Academy Scientific Publisher.

Vinogradov AP (1959) Chemical Evolution of the Earth. Moscow: USSR Academy Scientific Publisher.

of 2, then, in accordance with our table, soil concentrations of lead increase more than tenfold, and mercury concentrations by 100 times, with toxic contamination of these substances.

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