Introduction and objective:
Snow cover serves as a unique indicator of environmental pollution in both urban and rural areas. As a seasonal cover, it accumulates various pollutants emitted into the atmosphere, thus providing insight into air pollution types and the relative contributions of different pollution sources. The aim of the study is to analyze the distribution of trace elements in snow cover to assess the anthropogenic influence on pollution levels, and better understand ecological threats.

Material and methods:
The study was conducted in rural areas around the village of Wólka in the Lublin Province of eastern Poland, and in urban districts of the city of Lublin, capital of the Province. Samples were analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry, the Enrichment Factor (EF), and ecological risk indices (RI), were calculated to evaluate the contamination and potential ecological risks posed by the metals.

The findings indicate higher concentrations of metals like sodium and iron in urban areas, likely due to road salt use and industrial activity, respectively. Enrichment factors showed significant anthropogenic contributions, particularly for metals like sodium, zinc, and cadmium, which had EF values substantially above natural levels. The potential ecological risk assessment highlighted a considerable ecological threat in urban areas compared to rural settings, primarily due to higher concentrations of metals.

The variation in metal concentrations between urban and rural snow covers reflects the impact of human activities on local environments. Urban areas showed higher pollution levels, suggesting the need for targeted pollution control policies to mitigate the adverse ecological impacts. This study underscores the importance of continuous monitoring and comprehensive risk assessments to effectively manage environmental pollution.

The study was funded by research grants from the Polish Ministry of Education and Science in Warsaw, Poland. (Grant Nos. FD-20/IS-6/999, FD-20/IS-6/019, FD-20/ IS-6/021, FD-20/IS-6/050).
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