- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
Beryllium is a rare but widely distributed element. As a consequence of rapid developments in the capabilities to determine low concentrations of Be in inorganic solids, tissue, air, and water, it is now possible to characterize the distribution of Be in various environmental compartments, to describe the fluxes among these compartments, and to determine the controls on these fluxes. Increased human activity, including land disturbance, metallurgical processes, the burning of fossil fuels (with associated air pollution, including Be, and related terrestrial acidification), has generally increased the flow of Be through ecosystems. This fact was recognized several decades ago (e.g., Kubizňáková 1983). The distribution and redistribution of Be nuclides are important to understand because of Be toxicity to fauna (including humans) and possibly to flora. The radioisotopes (7Be and 10Be) are used to understand environmental and geologic processes. Because of the very different half lives (7Be = 53 days; 10Be = 1.5 million years), Be nuclides have been used to study earth-surface processes as short as diurnal variation (EL-Hussein et al. 2001) to exposure age-dating (Braucher et al. 2000) and erosional processes (Small et al. 1999). Consequently, we review the literature from the perspective of the interaction of geologic materials, aqueous solutions, and biota, at or near Earth’s surface. This chapter is organized parallel to the hydrologic pathways from the atmosphere, through ecosystems, to estuaries. We focus on the environmental chemistry of the stable nuclide 9Be, whereas Kaste et al. (this volume) focus on the cosmogenic isotope 7Be and Morris et al. and Bierman et al. focus on 10Be. Effects of point-source pollution on the immediate environment, such as in the vicinity of smelters, are not discussed except where the effects may be transmitted regionally by the atmosphere or surface water.
BERYLLIUM IN THE ATMOSPHERE
The atmospheric flux …