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Inadequacy of Conventional Grab Sampling for Remediation Decision-Making for Metal Contamination at Small-Arms Ranges

Abstract

Research shows grab sampling is inadequate for evaluating military ranges contaminated with energetics because of their highly heterogeneous distribution. Similar studies assessing the heterogeneous distribution of metals at small-arms ranges (SAR) are lacking. To address this we evaluated whether grab sampling provides appropriate data for performing risk analysis at metal-contaminated SARs characterized with 30–48 grab samples. We evaluated the extractable metal content of Cu, Pb, Sb, and Zn of the field data using a Monte Carlo random resampling with replacement (bootstrapping) simulation approach. Results indicate the 95% confidence interval of the mean for Pb (432 mg/kg) at one site was 200–700 mg/kg with a data range of 5–4500 mg/kg. Considering the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency screening level for lead is 400 mg/kg, the necessity of cleanup at this site is unclear. Resampling based on populations of 7 and 15 samples, a sample size more realistic for the area yielded high false negative rates.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the Department of Defense, Environmental Science and Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), which provided financial support for the conduct of the research to Dr. Clausen through the ESTCP ER-0918 project, Demonstration of the Attributes of Multi-Increment Sampling and Proper Sample Processing Protocols for the Characterization of Metals on DoD Facilities. ESTCP provided a review of the study design and the final report (Clausen et al. 2013). ESTCP had no involvement in writing this paper. The research presented in this paper is from a thesis submitted to the Graduate School at the University of New Hampshire as part of the requirements for completion of a doctoral degree (Clausen 2015).

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Correspondence to J. L. Clausen.

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Clausen, J.L., Georgian, T., Gardner, K.H. et al. Inadequacy of Conventional Grab Sampling for Remediation Decision-Making for Metal Contamination at Small-Arms Ranges. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 100, 147–154 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-017-2255-7

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Keywords

  • Grab sampling
  • Heterogeneity
  • Metals
  • Residue
  • Small-arms range
  • Soil