The nature and distribution of Cu, Zn, Hg, and Pb in urban soils of a regional city

Lithgow, Australia

Marek Rouillon*, Damian B. Gore, Mark P. Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the concentration and spatial distribution of Cu, Zn, Hg and Pb in the surface (0-2. cm) soils of a regional city in Australia. Surface soils were collected from road sides and analysed for their total Cu, Zn, Hg and Pb concentrations in the <180. μm and <2. mm grain size fractions. The average metal concentration of surface soils, relative to local background soils at 40-50. cm depth, are twice as enriched in Hg, more than three times enriched in Cu and Zn, and nearly six times as enriched in Pb. Median surface soil metal concentration values were Cu - 39. mg/kg (682. mg/kg max), Zn - 120. mg/kg (4950. mg/kg max), Hg - 44. μg/kg (14,900. μg/kg max) and Pb - 46. mg/kg (3490. mg/kg max). Five sites exceeded the Australian NEPC (1999) 300. mg/kg guideline for Pb in residential soils. Strong positive correlations between Cu, Zn and Pb, coupled with the spatial distribution of elevated soil concentrations towards the city centre and main roads suggest traffic and older housing as major sources of contamination. No spatial relationships were identified between elevated metal loadings and locations of past or present industries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-91
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

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