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Individual Highlight

Elemental Concentrations in Urban Green Stormwater Infrastructure Soils

Photo of Green stormwater infrastructure in Center City, Philadelphia. Rebecca Schwartz, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Green stormwater infrastructure in Center City, Philadelphia. Rebecca Schwartz, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : A study by a Forest Service scientist and her partners found that in an urban area, soils in green stormwater infrastructure facilities appear to accumulate calcium (Ca) and iodine (I), but are either no different, or lower in cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb) compared to soils at background locations; however, mean values of these metals found across green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) sites were up to four times greater than targeted objectives for soil cleanup for residential use.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Kondo, Ph.D., Michelle 
Research Location : Philadelphia, Pa.
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 952

Summary

Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) is designed to capture stormwater for infiltration, detention, evapotranspiration, or reuse. Soils play a key role in stormwater interception at these facilities. It is important to assess whether contamination is occurring in GSI soils because urban stormwater drainage areas often accumulate elements of concern. Soil contamination could affect hydrologic and ecosystem functions, and maintenance workers and the public may also be exposed to GSI soils. A Forest Service scientist along with her collaborators investigated soil elemental concentrations at 59 GSI sites in the city of Philadelphia. Non-GSI soil samples at “background” sites upland of GSI sites were used for comparison. Compared to background soils, GSI facilities appear to accumulate Ca and I, however these elements do not pose significant human health risk. Elements of concern to human health, including Cd, Hg and Pb, were either no different, or lower in GSI soils compared to in background soils, however, mean values found across GSI sites were up to four times greater than targeted objectives for soil cleanup for residential use.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Drexel University
  • University of Pennsylvania