Spatial variability in heavy metal concentration in urban pavement joints - a case study.

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Date: Jan. 15, 2021
From: Soil(Vol. 7, Issue 1)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Case study
Length: 494 words

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Abstract :

Heavy metals are known to be among one of the major environmental pollutants, especially in urban areas, and, as generally known, can pose environmental risks and direct risks to humans. This study deals with the spatial distribution of heavy metals in different pavement joints in the inner city area of Marburg (Hesse, Germany). Pavement joints, defined as the joint between paving stones and filled with different materials, have so far hardly been considered as anthropogenic materials and potential pollution sources in urban areas. Nevertheless, they have an important role as possible sites of infiltration for surface run-off accumulation areas and are therefore a key feature of urban water regimes. In order to investigate the spatial variability in heavy metals in pavement joints, a geospatial sampling approach was carried out on six inner city sampling sites, followed by heavy metal analyses via inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and additional pH and organic matter analyses. A first risk assessment of heavy metal pollution from pavement joints was performed. Pavement joints examined consist mainly of basaltic gravel, sands, organic material and anthropogenic artefacts (e.g. glass and plastics), with an average joint size of 0.89 cm and a vertical depth of 2-10 cm. In general, the pavement joint material shows high organic matter loads (average 11.0 % by mass) and neutral to alkaline pH values. Besides high Al and Fe content, the heavy metals Cr, Ni, Cd and Pb are mainly responsible for the contamination of pavement joints. The identified spatial pattern of maximum heavy metal loads in pavement joints could not be attributed solely to traffic emissions, as commonly reported for urban areas. Higher concentrations were detected at run-off accumulation areas (e.g. drainage gutters) and at the lowest sampling points with high drainage accumulation tendencies. Additional Spearman correlation analyses show a clear positive correlation between the run-off accumulation value and calculated exposure factor (ExF; Spearman correlation coefficients (rSP) - 0.80; p0.00). Further correlation analyses revealed different accumulation and mobility tendencies of heavy metals in pavement joints. Based on sorption processes with humic substances and an overall alkaline pH milieu, especially Cu, Cd and Pb showed a low potential mobility and strong adsorption tendency, which could lead to an accumulation and fixation of heavy metals in pavement joints. The presence of heavy metals in pavement joints poses a direct risk for urban environments and may also affect environments out of urban areas if drainage transports accumulated heavy metals. Finally, we encourage further research to give more attention to this special field of urban anthropogenic materials and potential risks for urban environments. Overall urban geochemical background values, and the consideration of run-off-related transport processes on pavements, are needed to develop effective management strategies of urban pavement soil pollution.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A648532768