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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Heavy Metals in the Environment

Heavy Metals Distribution in an Iowa Suburban Landscape


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 1, p. 83-89
    Received: May 21, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): akmanu@iastate.edu
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  1. A. N. Langner,
  2. A. Manu * and
  3. M. A. Tabatabai
  1. Dep. of Agronomy, Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA 50011-1010. Assigned to Associate Editor Chad Penn


This study investigated the degree to which human activities through urbanization influence heavy metal concentrations in a suburban landscape in Ankeny, IA. Residential areas from different years in nine time periods of development were identified from aerial photos. Soil cores were collected from the center of the front yard of 10 randomly selected homes. Cores were subdivided into 0- to 5-, 5- to 10-, and 10- to 20-cm increments from a composite of five cores. The soils were analyzed for organic C, pH, and total Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn. Results showed that organic C increased and pH decreased with time, and that there was a general decreasing trend in heavy metal concentrations from the pre-1939 period until 1983–1990, after which there was a sharp increase in the concentrations of most of the metals. The mean Cu concentration ranged from 21 mg kg−1 for the pre-1939 time period of development to 14.9 mg kg−1 for the recent period of development (2003–2005). Nickel concentrations increased significantly with depth with means of 21.3 mg kg−1 at depth 0 to 5 cm, 22.5 mg kg−1 at depth 5 to 10 cm, and 23.0 mg kg−1 at depth 10 to 20 cm. The concentrations of heavy metals were significantly intercorrelated, except Zn, suggesting their coexistence as mineral constituents or common contamination source. The concentrations of Cu and Pb in some locations could be due to anthropogenic inputs or higher organic matter content in soils adjacent to older homes. There appears to have been a source that caused an increase in Cd, Cr, Co, Cu, Pb, and Ni concentrations in soil adjacent to homes built between 1983 and 1990.

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