A pilot study on detection of lead in residential garden soil in tri-state mining area

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Publication Date

Spring 2021


Lead is toxic and a known human carcinogen, affecting millions of children in USA. Some of these effects on children includes permanent nervous system damage, and disabilities. High level of lead in soil may affect overall crop yield, soil health as well as health of the consumers. Our study focused on determining lead concentration in soil collected from residential gardens in Pittsburg (KS) and Alba (MO). With the background of mining in this tri-state area, this project aimed to increase community awareness on the soil quality and its potential impact on human and animal health. Soil was sampled from equal number of sites from both Pittsburg and Alba as well as control soil samples were collected from Pitcher (OK) chat piles. These samples were thoroughly dried and homogenized and tested for lead concentration using a commercially available kit (Industrial Test Systems Lead Soil Check) and also was analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy. Along with lead, other nutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium levels and pH of the soil were also measured using Luster Leaf’s Rapitest Soil Test dip kit. Homeowners were provided with a short questionnaire survey regarding concern of lead exposure. Three out of a total of 24 subsites tested showed level of lead above the EPA guideline of 400 ppm. The data obtained will be shared with the owners and recommendations will be provided, if needed. A full-scale follow-up study will be conducted in future to enhance mindfulness among the community regarding environmental health.


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