Assessing the Impact of Industrialization on Lead Levels in Soils on the Gettysburg College Campus: A Chemical and Spatial Analysis

Nikita L. La Cruz, Gettysburg College
Sarah M. Principato, Gettysburg College
Joseph J. Grzybowski, Gettysburg College

This presentation was given at the 48th Annual Northeastern Geological Society of America Meeting in Bretton Woods, NH, March 18-20, 2013.


The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of past industrialization on lead levels in soil on the Gettysburg College campus located in south central Pennsylvania. The soil samples used in this analysis were collected from areas that were impacted by industrialization, including a railroad, a paint shop, and a quarry, and from areas that were not impacted by industrial activities. The soil samples were collected using a hand auger, dried in an oven at 50°C for 24 hours, and sieved. The less than 2 mm fraction of each sample was digested using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Method (3050B). The digested samples were analyzed using flame atomic absorption spectrometry to determine the lead concentrations. The measured lead concentrations were mapped using ArcGIS and a kriging surface was made and subsequently used to determine the lead concentrations between measured samples. Preliminary results indicate that lead concentration varies with depth and that the majority of sites tested have lead concentrations below 400 ppm (the no concern or urban background level identified by the EPA). There is at least one site that has a concentration of 688 ± 37 ppm, and this lead concentration is in the level of concern concentration identified by the EPA. Additional chemical and spatial analyses are in progress.