Geospatial Mapping of Pb, Cr, Cu, Zn, Cd, and Sb in Urban Soil, Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Maria A Amaya, Samia E Grimida, Ali R Elkekli, Raed K Aldouri, Barry A Benedict and Nicholas E Pingitore Jr, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, United States
Population-based random stratified sampling of the city of Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico provided 500 city blocks for study. We collected soil from the public space (where present) in front of each house on a selected block; equal measured small volumes of these were combined to produce a composite sample for analysis. Such composite samples (1) decrease, by an order of magnitude, laboratory processing and analysis costs, and (2) smooth the data to represent blocks as averages of individual houses. Retention of the unanalyzed samples of the individual houses permits their later analysis should the composites suggest further study of individual houses on an anomalous block. Elemental analysis of 10 mg pressed powders was performed on a Panalytical Epsilon5 EDS-XRF, via 8 secondary targets and 12 USGS and NIST multi-element rock standards.

The mean and (range) of concentration for Pb was 43 (13-550) ppm; for Cr, 31 (1.8-76); for Cu, 22 (6-550); for Zn 84 (42-415) ppm; for Cd, 1.9 (0.1-6.2); and for Sb, 5.9 (2.7-29). The old urban core of Cd. Juarez was marked by high levels of Pb, Cr, Cu, and Zn, and, to a smaller degree, of Cd and Sb. This pattern mirrors that of contiguous El Paso, Texas, USA, directly across the narrow Rio Grande. Businesses, industrial facilities, transportation (both railroads and highways), traditional “downtown” shopping, and old residential districts cluster in this urban core. A Pb-Cu-Zn smelter, which operated for more than a century until 1999, is present in the US adjacent to the Rio Grande, about two km away from downtown Cd. Juarez. Thus the city has been subject to both traditional metal sources (e.g., leaded gasoline, highway debris) and smelter emissions.

 The poplation of Cd. Juarez has exploded in the last few decades to some 1.5 million inhabitants due both to natural growth and in-migration from rural districts for economic opportunity. Most of this growth has been accommodated by radial expansion of the city into the surrounding desert. Metals pollution in these newer areas is much lower than in the city core due to their distance from legacy, traditional, and ongoing sources. Thus there is a strong risk gradient for exposure to heavy metals from contaminated soil from the higher levels in the city core to the lower levels in newer residential neighborhoods.

NIEHS Grant 1RO1-ES11367