Delineating the spatial extent of smelter-related atmospheric fallout using a rapid assessment technique

P. J. Harvey*, R. Mabbott, M. Rouillon, P. G. Peterson, L. J. Kristensen, C. Dong, M. P. Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    The former Pasminco Cockle Creek Smelter (PCCS) at Boolaroo, New South Wales, Australia, has for many years received considerable attention in the international research literature and the community more broadly relating to legacy off-site soil metal(loid) contamination from the lead smelter operation. Smelter derived environmental Pb contamination and associated elevated childhood blood Pb concentrations have been central to these concerns. In this study, we consider the efficacy of the Lead Abatement Strategy (LAS) grid used as a management tool to delineate the extent of environment contaminant transport and deposition around the PCCS. Through in-situ portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analysis of 150 surface soils in and outside of the LAS grid, this study demonstrates that, when compared to the Australian Health Investigation Levels (HILs), the LAS grid is a useful indicator of soil Pb concentrations around the PCCS. Soils outside of the LAS grid typically contained Pb concentrations below the Australia HIL for residential areas (HIL-A, 300 mg/kg) (median – 116 mg/kg; max – 3760 mg/kg; n = 118), with a small number of sites (n = 15) exceeding the HIL-A, mainly resulting from waste slag material. Surface soil Pb concentrations within the LAS grid exceeded the HIL-A in 38% of soils analysed (median – 182 mg/kg; max – 4170 mg/kg; n = 32). This study provides a useful application of pXRF technology that can be adopted by environmental regulators for rapid compliance assessment.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)35-41
    Number of pages7
    JournalApplied Geochemistry
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


    • Exposure assessment
    • Health
    • Lead abatement
    • pXRF
    • Slag

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