Neighborhood-scale lead (Pb) speciation in Akron, Ohio (USA) soils: primary sources, post-deposition diagenesis, and high concentrations of labile Pb

Nicholas Santoro, David M. Singer, Bridget K. Mulvey, Katrina Halasa, Nadya Teutsch, Allie Shedleski, Madison Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lead (Pb) poses a significant risk to infants and children through exposure to contaminated soil and dust. However, there is a lack of information on Pb speciation and distribution at the neighborhood-scale. This work aimed to determine: (1) the distribution of acid-extractable (labile) Pb and other metals ([M]AE) in two neighborhoods in Akron, Ohio (USA) (Summit Lake and West Akron; n = 82 samples); and (2) Pb speciation and potential sources. Total metal concentration ([M]T) and [M]AE was strongly correlated for Pb and Zn (R2 of 0.66 and 0.55, respectively), corresponding to 35% and 33% acid-extractability. Lead and Zn exhibited a strong positive correlation with each other (R2 = 0.56 for MT and 0.68 for MAE). Three types of Pb-bearing phases were observed by electron microscopy: (1) galena (PbS)-like (5–10 μm); (2) paint chip residuals (10–20 μm); and (3) Pb-bearing Fe-oxides (20 μm). Isotope ratio values for PbAE were 1.159 to 1.245 for 206Pb/207Pb, and 1.999 to 2.098 for 208Pb/206Pb, and there was a statistically significant difference between the two neighborhoods (p = 0.010 for 206Pb/207Pb and p = 0.009 for 208Pb/206Pb). Paint and petrol are the dominant sources of Pb, with some from coal and fly ash. Lead speciation and distribution is variable and reflects a complex relationship between the input of primary sources and post-deposition transformations. This work highlights the importance of community science collaborations to expand the reach of soil sampling and establish areas most at risk based on neighborhood-dependent Pb speciation and distribution for targeted remediation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number164
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - 9 Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Lead
  • Metal contamination
  • Pb isotopes
  • Urban soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Environmental Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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