• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 22
Presentation Time: 2:15 PM


REINERS, James and HALL, Cynthia, Department of Geology and Astronomy, West Chester University, 750 S. Church Street, West Chester, PA 19383,

The purpose of our study was to analyze the composition of soils found in the Philadelphia area for heavy metal contamination using the handheld X-Ray Fluorescence Analyzer. We deduced that there would be a high concentration of lead found in the soil in areas where large industrial factories were present due to the widespread production of lead-based paints and products at these former industrial sites. After analyzing the soils in multiple areas, one in particular yielded 2903ppm of lead. The accepted value of lead in parts per million in soils is 1200, but this accepted level decreases to only 400ppm when the soil is near land accessible to children. The Kensington section in Northeast Philadelphia was once a large industrial area during the 1800s. In the present day, this same location where multiple industrial factories were located is now covered by agriculture areas, gardens, neighborhoods, playgrounds, parks and schools. We believe that the industrial history of the Philadelphia area still affects the soil hundreds of years later. Our data supports our hypothesis that the industrial activity may be the cause of the increased amount of lead in the soil. When comparing the Kensington data to data from nonindustrial zones, we determined that there is significantly less lead contamination in the soil. The residential areas now located in Kensington are at risk to having long-term exposure to high concentrations of lead which could impose on the health of the residents.
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