A large number of wood and bark samples have been analysed utilizing particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) and particle-induced gamma-ray emission (PIGE) techniques. Samples of common tree species like Scots Pine, Norway Spruce and birch were collected from a large number of sites in Southern and Southwestern Finland. Some of the samples were from a heavily polluted area in the vicinity of a copper-nickel smelter. The samples were dry ashed at 550 degrees C for the removal of the organic matrix in order to increase the analytical sensitivity of the method. The sensitivity was enhanced by a factor of 50 for wood and slightly less for bark. The ashed samples were pressed into pellets and irradiated as thick targets with a millimetre-sized proton beam. By including the ashing procedure in the method, the statistical dispersion due to elemental heterogeneities in wood material could be reduced. As a by-product, information about the elemental composition of ashes was obtained. By comparing the concentration of an element in bark ash to the concentration in wood ash of the same tree useful information from environmental point of view was obtained. The obtained ratio of the ashes was used to distinguish between elemental contributions from anthropogenic atmospheric sources and natural geochemical sources, like soil and bedrock.
- elemental analyses
- environmental studies