An Assessment of Heavy Metal Pollution Within a Public Nature Park, Greencastle, IN

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Heavy metal contamination has potentially harmful health effects. Thus, it is critical to evaluate the concentrations of these metals within public spaces. In this study, we investigated heavy metal concentrations in soil and sediment samples collected from a public nature park located in Greencastle, IN. Given the close spatial proximity of the park to local anthropogenic activities (i.e. a firearms range, a solid waste yard, a county road, and the county highway department), there is a concern that this public area has elevated heavy metal concentrations that may pose a risk to park visitors.

To assess the magnitude of heavy metal contamination in the park, soil and sediment samples (n = 10) were collected along the park’s eastern boundary. This area is transitional between the park and these local anthropogenic activities. To characterize background concentrations of these metals, two additional samples were collected along the far western edge of the park. All samples were sieved to less than 180µm and analyzed for Pb, Zn, As, Cr, and Cu using a Bruker CTX benchtop XRF unit.

Concentrations of Zn, As, Cr, and Cu are generally within or near typical background concentrations for soils found in central Indiana (and the U.S.). However, Pb concentrations are slightly elevated, especially near the firearms range. Our preliminary analysis also reveals that the concentrations of these metals generally decrease with increasing distance from these anthropogenic sources. Although the measured concentrations within the park are not considered dangerous by EPA standards, our analyses reveal that these anthropogenic activities are likely contributing harmful metals to their surroundings.