Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 142, Issue 1–4, pp 165–186 | Cite as

Lead Concentrations, Isotope Ratios, and Source Apportionment in Road Deposited Sediments, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

  • R. A. Sutherland
  • J. P. Day
  • J. O. Bussen


Anthropogenic contributions of lead to the urban environment havebeen dominated by combustion of leaded gasoline. A number of studies have used lead concentrations in road deposited sediments(RDSs) to infer automobile contributions. However, few studies have combined concentration data, enrichment ratios, and lead isotope ratio data into a comprehensive picture of lead contamination of road sediments. An urban, non-industrialized basin, in Oahu, Hawaii, was selected for investigation. Twenty RDSsamples were collected throughout the 11 km2 system, with anundisturbed soil profile sampled to a depth of 30 cm to documentbackground lead levels.Median lead concentrations from a weak (cold) HCl digestion and a hot nitric acid digestion were 3 and 7 mg kg-1 for thebackground soil, and 256 and 303 mg kg-1 for RDSs. The median Pb enrichment ratio (HCl digestion) for RDSs was 129, witha range from 24 to 883. All the data collected point to a highlycontaminated environment.Lead isotope ratios from potential sources were examined relativeto those observed for RDSs in the system. Host geological rocks,paint, and long-range aerosol transport were ruled-out as significant sources based on an examination of isotope ratios andpotential loadings to road sediments. Leaded gasoline wasidentified as the major contributor to present-day road sedimentsbased on their radiogenic nature, with mean 206Pb/204Pb = 18.787 ± 0.096 (95% confidence interval), 207Pb/204Pb = 15.847± 0.074, 208Pb/204Pb= 38.836 ± 0.221, and 206Pb/207Pb = 1.184 ± 0.009. The contribution of gasoline additives to RDS for two periods, pre-1968 and post-1968, were estimated using 206Pb/207Pb ratios. The average contribution of post-1968 lead to RDSs was 59%, with a range from 32 to 81%. To explain the mixed age of lead in the RDSs, we suggest that erosional processes have mobilized sediment from roadside reservoirs in the basin that have accumulated automobile emissions primarily since the 1930s. The significant shift in useof radiogenic (J-type) ores, mostly from Missouri, USA, have allowed us to fingerprint and apportion lead in RDSs of thissystem.

contamination fingerprinting isotope ratios lead source apportionment 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geomorphology Laboratory, Department of GeographyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluU.S.A. (author for correspondence
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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