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  • 1 Department of Chemistry Pontifical Catholic University (PUC) Rua Marquês de São Vicente 225 22453 Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
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Abstract  

Plants and soils from a natural thorium and rare-earth element occurrence (Morro do Ferro, Brazil) were analyzed by alpha spectrometry (Th) and ICP-AES (REE), after pre-concentration of the elements by solvent extraction, co-precipitation and ion exchange procedures. Leaching experiments with humic acid solutions and different soils were performed to estimate the fraction of elements biologically available. High concentrations of the light rare-earth elements (LREE) and of Th, reaching some hundreds of g/g-ash, were measured in plant leaves from the areas of the highest concentration of these elements in soil and in near-surface waters. Chondrite normalized REE plots of plant leaves and corresponding soils are very similar, suggesting that there is no significant fractionation between the REE during uptake from the soil solution and incorporation into the leaves. However, Ce-depletion was observed for some plant species, increasing forSolanum ciliatum in the sequence: leaves<fruits<seeds. Soil to plant concentration ratios (CR's) for Th and the REE, based on the total concentration of these elements in soils, are in the range of 10–3 to 10–2. Leaching experiments confirmed the importance of humic acid complexation for the bio-uptake of Th and REE and further showed that only a very small fraction of these elements in soil is leachable. The implications of these results on the calculated CR's will be discussed.