Identification and mapping of heavy metal pollution in soils of a sports ground in Galway City

Published by: NUI Galway
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Heavy metals in urban soils continue to attract attention because of their potential long-term effects on human health. During a previous investigation of urban soils in Galway City, Ireland, a pollution hotspot of Pb, Cu, Zn and As was identified in the sports ground of South Park in the Claddagh. The sports ground was formerly a rubbish dumping site for both municipal and industrial wastes. In the present study, a portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) analyser was used to obtain rapid in-situ elemental analyses of the topsoil (depth: about 5–10 cm) at 200 locations on a 20 · 20-m grid in South Park. Extremely high values of the pollutants were found, with maximum values of Pb, Zn, Cu and As of 10,297, 24,716, 2224 and 744 mg/kg soil, respectively. High values occur particularly where the topsoil cover is thin, whereas lower values were found in areas where imported topsoil covers the polluted substrate. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques were applied to the dataset to create elemental spatial distribution maps, three-dimensional images and interpretive hazard maps of the pollutants in the study area. Immediate action to remediate the contaminated topsoil is recommended to safeguard the health of children who play at the sports ground.

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