Ambient Levels of Metals in New Jersey Soils: Research Project Summary



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Trenton, N.J. : New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science, Research and Technology


Between 1996 and 2001, three studies were conducted to determine the ambient levels of extractable metals in New Jersey soils. These studies were conducted to gather information to support the development of soil cleanup criteria, which cannot be set below ambient levels. A total of 248 soil samples were taken from the urban Piedmont region, the urban Coastal Plain region, and rural regions of the Valley and Ridge, Highlands, and Coastal Plain provinces. Local or point sources of contamination were avoided by the use of Geographic Information System databases and by following sample location guidelines in the field. Surface soil samples (0-6”) were analyzed for acid-extractable Target Analyte List (TAL) metals using USEPA SW-846 methods that are normally used to conduct initial investigations at hazardous waste sites. With one exception, median and 90th percentile concentrations of all metals were below current soil cleanup criteria. The exception was the 90th percentile arsenic concentration from the urban Piedmont study, which slightly exceeded the arsenic criterion. Otherwise, only certain individual samples contained metal concentrations above current criteria. A single rural soil sample yielded a beryllium concentration slightly above the corresponding criterion. For the urban Coastal Plain study, three of the 91 samples contained levels of arsenic above the current criterion. The urban Piedmont study yielded eight samples out of 67 where levels of arsenic or lead exceeded the criteria.



New Jersey