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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #256663

Title: Attic dust analysis approach for evaluation of heavy metal deposition in the El Paso Del Norte Region

item SHEKHTER, EUGENIA - University Of Texas
item Van Pelt, Robert - Scott
item PANNELL, KEITH - University Of Texas
item GILL, THOMAS - University Of Texas
item BARNES, MELANIE - Texas Tech University

Submitted to: International Conference on Aeolian Research
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/5/2010
Publication Date: 7/9/2010
Citation: Shekhter, E., Van Pelt, R.S., Pannell, K., Gill, T., Barnes, M. 2010. Attic dust analysis approach for evaluation of heavy metal deposition in the El Paso Del Norte Region. International Conference on Aeolian Research. July 5-9, 2010. Santa Rosa, Argentina.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: During the 90 years from 1887 to 1977, a large smelter in the El Paso Del Norte region of North America smelted many ores including copper, lead, and zinc. In order to identify the patterns of heavy metal dispersion from the smelter, we sampled attic dust and dust from undisturbed surfaces in 15 buildings of varying ages from three neighborhoods in the cities of El Paso and Juarez. The dust samples and samples of unpolluted buried soil horizons in the area were extracted with aqua regia and analyzed by ICP-AES. Enrichment ratios (ER) were calculated by dividing the concentration of a trace metal in the attic dust by the mean concentration of the same element in the buried soil horizons. Mean ER for Pb were 263.3, 95.4, and 70.2 for dust collected in a neighborhood near the smelter, downtown Juarez, and an El Paso neighborhood on the other side of the Franklin Mountains from the smelter. Greater ER for As, Cd, Zn, Sb, and Cu followed the same trends, by neighborhood, noted for Pb. In addition, dust collected from attics built after 1977 and surfaces in the attics (pipes, ducts, storage containers) post-dating 1977 had lower ER for the trace metals than samples collected on adjacent surfaces that were present during the period of smelter operation. We conclude the smelter to be the primary source of the heavy metals in the attic dusts.