Atmospheric deposition represents a significant source of heavy metals entering soil and aquatic ecosystems. The evaluation of their vulnerability can be carried out by the Critical Load criterion. In this work we focus the attention on the terrestrial ecosystems in the Province of Bologna, estimating the maximum tolerable load of cadmium and lead they are able to bear without sustain the occurrence of harmful ecotoxicological effects. To this aim the Steady-State Mass Balance method is applied on a small scale (10x10 Km EMEP grids) and the more suitable approach to define critical limits for the Province condition, effect-base or stand-still, is discussed. The opportunity of simplifying the input data collection is also considered, trying to deduce soil properties from geological information. Finally, the environmental risk due to the present deposition of Pb and Cd on provincial soils is described as exceedances over the critical loads.
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