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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Metal Contamination in British Urban Dusts and Soils


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 17 No. 2, p. 226-234
    Received: Dec 27, 1985

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. E.B. Culbard,
  2. I. Thornton *,
  3. J. Watt,
  4. M. Wheatley,
  5. S. Moorcroft and
  6. M. Thompson
  1. Applied Geochemistry Res. Group, Dep. of Geology, Royal School of Mines, Imperial College of Sci. and Technol., London SW7 2BP. U.K.



Results obtained from the largest national survey of metals in urban dusts and soils carried out to date confirm the presence of elevated concentrations of Pb, Cd, Cu, and Zn. The geometric mean concentrations of Pb in 5235 housedusts and 4650 garden soils collected in 53 locations in Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) are 580 and 298 mg kg−1, respectively. Variations between locations are considerable with housedusts ranging from 205 mg kg−1 for Ayr in Scotland to 1870 mg kg−1 for an historic mining area located in Derbyshire, England. Regression analysis has been used to fit a multivariate model to the data for Pb in housedust to provide information on the environmental factors that might contribute to the accumulation of metals in housedust. Inclusion of a number of predictor variables for Pb in housedust accounted for some 33% of the variance, with the remainder of the variation attributable to other factors. Lead concentrations in housedust are significantly and positively related to (i) Pb concentrations in garden soil, (ii) the area of exposed soil surrounding the house, (iii) the presence of high Pb-containing paints used inside the house, and (iv) instances of recent redecoration. Concentrations are highest in older homes.

Supported by a grant from the United Kingdom Dep. of the Environment.

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