Investigators have used the temporal record of heavy metal and sulphur concentrations in Antarctic snow to assess the extent of global atmospheric pollution in the Southern Hemisphere. These studies would be compromised by any significant local pollution from within Antarctica itself. Here, we present a comprehensive inventory of heavy metal and S emissions from human activities south of 60°S. These emissions are found to be due mainly to the use of gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene on stations and in field operations, and to waste burning. We find that for S, Cd, Cu and Zn, emissions from within Antarctica are probably important only in local areas. However, for Pb, these emissions (about 1800 kg Pb a −1), particularly from leaded gasoline and aviation gasoline, could account for a very significant part of the fallout flux to snow over the continent.