WVGES Trace Elements in West Virginia Coals

Click Here To Go To Trace Elements Framed Home Page LEAD (Pb)

Lead Stratigraphic DistributionLead Geographic DistributionLead Summary Statistics

Lead is one of the Clean Coal Act , Title III Hazardous Air Pollutant elements and its content
in West Virginia coals is of environmental concern.

Geologic Distribution: Lead in coal is primarily associated with mineral matter, particularly within specific trace minerals.  The minerals galena (PbS) and clausthalite (PbSe), plus barium minerals (sulfates, carbonates, phosphates and silicates) in coal contain lead 1.  An unpublished study at the WVGES using scanning electron microscopy found clausthalite and/or clausthalite-chalcopyrite in solid solution in 12 of 24 coal samples studied, mainly in upper Kanawha Formation coals, but galena was very rare.  Pyrite in coal may also contain lead 2. Average lead content of West Virginia coals was 8.19 ppm on a whole coal basis.  Lead correlated slightly with ash yield, and somewhat with the ash related elements thorium (Th), lithium (Li), chromium (Cr), vanadium (V), lutetium (Lu), copper (Cu), scandium (Sc), gallium (Ga), tellurium (Te) and zirconium (Zr) and rare earth elements in the mineral monazite, especially cerium (Ce) and lanthanum (La) plus samarium (Sm), europium (Eu) and ytterbium (Yb). Coal beds of the Pocahontas Formation through lower Kanawha Formation were low in lead content with a moderate Pb in coals of the middle Kanawha through Conemaugh Group and a sharp decrease in Pb in Monongahela Group coals.

Economic Impact: Lead in coal should have little economic impact based upon environmental concerns.  Lead has a great many economic uses.

Environmental Impact:  Lead emissions from coal combustion are small and equal that of volcanoes and are far less than emissions from oil and gasoline combustion 3. Only about 6% of the Pb in coal may be emitted to the atmosphere during coal combustion 4.  A review of the environmental effects of Pb are included in Swaine 5.

    1. Finkelman, R.B., (1981)
    2. Finkelman, R.B., (1988)
    3. Bennett, B.G., (1981)
    4. Lovering, T.G., (1976)
    5. Swaine, D.J., (1978)
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