Exploring Environmental Legacy Issues in a Rural Community Park, Greencastle, IN

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Heavy metal pollution (e.g., Pb, As, Cu, and Zn) is a common environmental legacy issue that impacts communities of all sizes. Depending upon the concentration and duration of exposure, heavy metal pollution can result in an array of negative health issues, especially among children. This study investigates the distribution and concentrations of Pb, Zn, As, and Cu in soils within Robe Ann Park, a popular community park that is located within a half-mile of the former American Zinc Products Co. plant in Greencastle, IN. Characterizing heavy metal abundances in soils within this park can inform and safeguard Greencastle residents.

Soil samples were strategically collected from 15 locations within the park’s boundaries. At each sample site, 5 subsamples were collected less than 2 cm in depth and amalgamated from a 1x1 meter grid. All samples were dried and sieved to less than 180 μm and analyzed for Pb, Zn, As, and Cu using a Bruker CTX benchtop XRF unit.

Pb, Zn, As, and Cu concentrations measured in park soils are relatively low and are below EPA-defined thresholds, posing no immediate health threat to the Greencastle community. However, our spatial analysis reveals elevated Pb, Zn, As, and Cu concentrations within soil samples collected along the perimeter of the park. Thus, this pattern suggests that the elevated metal abundances found within the park are likely related to recent automobile traffic and not to the city’s historic Zn manufacturing facility.