Particulate lead in urban soils from Syracuse, NY, was characterized by computer assisted scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray energy spectroscopy (EDX). Samples collected from the building line of houses built prior to 1940 showed bulk lead values of 870 to 5350 μg/g, the origin of which is suspected to have been from lead-based paints. In contrast to previous analyses of household dusts, only a small fraction of the particulate lead could be identified with potential input materials; most of the lead is strongly associated with the iron and manganese phases in the soils. Estimates of the amount of soil bulk lead amenable to SEM characterization ranged from 20 to 115% with lower values being associated with lower soil pH. The results suggest that soil lead derived from paint undergoes a relatively rapid transformation and redistribution with consequent loss of its potentially distinctive individual particle identity.
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