1

Maureen Bishop
EFB 220 Urban Ecology
Final Project
Assessment of Heavy Metal Soil Concentrations onThree Brownfield sit...
2

(Sullivan, 2013). The site looked like it is now may be a camp for homeless people in warmer
weather as it is tucked aw...
3

Creating a Sustainable Urban Ecosystem
In this context, the word sustainable means to create a system that uses its res...
4

States Legal Foundation in Syracuse, NY they are currently working in conjunction with the US
EPA to write proposals fo...
5

which sites were vacant, I used ArcGIS to select for vacant brownfields and found that 37 out of
137 brownfields were c...
6

I then did research into many journal articles, guidelines, and past studies to decide what could
be planted on site to...
7

Average Heavy Metal
Concentration (ppm)

250.00
Lead Present
191.47

200.00
150.00
100.00

Copper
Present
64.53

50.00
...
8

Average Heavy Metal
Concentration (ppm)

60.00
Lead Present
47.47

50.00
Copper
Present
32.53

40.00

Zinc Present
49.6...
9

-Tree line one the side of the

Bryumargentenium(sidewalk crack

property had some trash strewn

moss)
-Trees: Box elde...
10

Best Site for Urban Tree Nursery and Recommendations for Vegetation
Based on the aforementioned results, I believe tha...
11

Comparison to Completed Research
Compared to research done by Gallagher on a brownfield in Jersey City, NJ I also foun...
12

VI. Conclusion
For all three vacant brownfield sites in the city of Syracuse, NY I found above average
concentrations ...
13

VII. Appendix
A. Raw Data
Table 1. Heavy metal concentration data for each sample, average concentrations, and the ran...
14

B. Site location

Figure 5. This figure displays the location of the brownfield areas I collected soil samples from
in...
15

C. Site Photos
1321 South Salina Street, Syracuse NY

(GoogleMaps)

Aerial Photo
(GoogleMaps)

Ground Photos

(Bishop,...
16

101 Chester Street, Syracuse NY 13210

(Landis, 2013)
Aerial Photo

(GoogleMaps)
Ground Photos

(GoogleMaps)

(Bishop,...
17

900 North Clinton Street Syracuse NY 13210

Aerial Photo
(GoogleMaps)
Ground Photos

(GoogleMaps)

(Landis, 2013)

Sol...
18

VIII. References
A&L Great Lakes Laboratories (2010) Metal Concentrations in Natural Soils. Fort Wayne,
Indiana. Date ...
19

Schilling JM (n.d.) The Revitalization of Vacant Properties: Where Broken Windows Meet
Smart Growth. Internation City-...
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Assessment of Heavy Metal Soil Concentrations on Three Brownfield sites and Recommendations for Urban Tree Nurseries as a Remediation Technique: Syracuse, NY

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A brownfield is a property where “…the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant” (US EPA, 2013). As with many rust belt cities, Syracuse NY has 137 properties designated as brownfields as of the summer of 2013 (Sullivan, 2013). For this study, I sampled soil from 3 of these brownfield sites and, using an Inductively Coupled Plasma Machine, tested for an above average presence of three heavy metals: copper, lead, and zinc. My results were compared to natural metal concentrations in soil set by the EPA to find out whether these contaminants were an issue on the site. Based on my results, observations, and research I was able to determine which site would be most suited for a potential urban tree nursery.

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Assessment of Heavy Metal Soil Concentrations on Three Brownfield sites and Recommendations for Urban Tree Nurseries as a Remediation Technique: Syracuse, NY

  1. 1. 1 Maureen Bishop EFB 220 Urban Ecology Final Project Assessment of Heavy Metal Soil Concentrations onThree Brownfield sites and Recommendations for Urban Tree Nurseries as a Remediation Technique: Syracuse, NY I. Introduction In post-industrial cities, there often exists unused land due to the presence of brownfields. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a brownfield is property where “…the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant” (US EPA, 2013). These sites can exist in this polluted state for a number of reasons: industry, hazardous accidents, factories, businesses, rapid development, transportation infrastructure, etc. As with many rust belt cities, Syracuse NY has 137 properties designated as brownfields as of the summer of 2013 (Sullivan, 2013). For this study, I sampled soil from 3 of these brownfield sites and, using an Inductively Coupled Plasma Machine, tested for an above average presence of three heavy metals: copper, lead, and zinc. The sites I selected are 1321 South Salina St., 101 Chester St., and 900 N. Clinton St., which are all within the Syracuse city limits. My results were compared to natural metal concentrations in soil set by the EPA to find out whether these contaminants were an issue on the site. Based on my results, observations, and research I was able to determine which site would be most suited for a potential urban tree nursery. Site History 1321 South Salina StreetSyracuse, NY13202 is a .33 acre lot that was built in 1970. It is currently owned by Church-Abundant Life and is across from the old, boarded-up Sears building
  2. 2. 2 (Sullivan, 2013). The site looked like it is now may be a camp for homeless people in warmer weather as it is tucked away from the road, fenced in, and it had signs of human presence. 101 Chester Street is owned by the City of Syracuse, NY (Sullivan, 2013). I could not find information about its prior use that has deemed it a brownfield but I know that it equates to 0.8 acres and is next to a residential home. 900 North Clinton Street Syracuse, NY 13204 is a 2.47 acre plot of land listed as a “special purpose” use and is currently owned by the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation (Sullivan, 2013). Similar studies Similar studies have been performed to assess the state of brownfield soils and what remediation techniques can be implemented. Previous research done for a brownfield in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ found above average concentrations of “arsenic, chromium, lead, zinc, and vanadium” (Gallagher, 2008). Above average heavy metal concentrations classifies this site as a brownfield because it lies on an old rail yard. Industrial development is often the cause of such contamination. For brownfield sites in Montreal, Canada researchers also tested for copper, lead, zinc and found above average concentrations of these heavy metals in the soil. Relevance to Urban Ecology Brownfields are a problem because contamination of the soil can affect the health of all living organisms surrounding the site. The main reasons that there is an initiative to mitigate brownfields are to prevent the spread of contaminants that could disrupt natural biogeochemical cycles and also to allow for re-development (Roy et. al., 2005). Contaminants in soils don’t always remain in the soil but can be distributed to other land through erosion or run-off. Urban planners are also beginning to realize that having so many unused and contaminated areas in a city can truly lead to its decline.
  3. 3. 3 Creating a Sustainable Urban Ecosystem In this context, the word sustainable means to create a system that uses its resources wisely and leaves resources available for future generations (US EPA, 2013). Often brownfields are not cleaned up because no one is held accountable for the management of the site. For a brownfield in Liverpool, NY outside of Syracuse, the owner, General Electric, got away with not becoming a superfund site (Sullivan, 2013). If no one is held accountable or the sites sit unmanaged then we will have much bigger problems in the future. Without cleaning up brownfield areas we are leaving contaminated land that can further contaminate other resources. One technique that can be employed to turn brownfields into sustainably managed land is phytoremediation. This cleanup strategy is “the engineered use of green plants…to remove, contain, or render harmless such environmental contaminants as heavy metals, trace elements, organic compounds, and radioactive compounds in soil or water” (Hinchman, n.d.).Vegetation has the ability to absorb heavy metals such as those I studied: copper, lead, and zinc through “hydraulic control, absorption, and mycorrhizal activity” in the roots of trees (Westphal, n.d.). Rather than using expensive and invasive clean up strategies such as extraction and searching for a place to deposit these soil contaminants, trees are a natural way to reverse ecological damage on brownfield sites. As our society exists today we use resources way outside the boundaries of the cities we live in. Urban tree nurseries have the potential to provide multiple benefits: remediating the contaminated soil and providing an easily accessible stock of trees within the city limits. This seems like it would create only one sustainable resource but we know that the urban environment is a system with many feedbacks. By remediating soil on these three sites there could be a positive feedback for things such as water quality and species habitat. There could also be positive future benefits such as providing stock for green infrastructure projects. At Atlantic
  4. 4. 4 States Legal Foundation in Syracuse, NY they are currently working in conjunction with the US EPA to write proposals for the development of urban tree nurseries on Syracuse brownfields (Sullivan, 2013). The support and understanding of importance is present but research and assessments such as this need to be completed to provide justifying data. Imagine if all 137 Syracuse brownfields could be cleaned up and turned into productive land for the city, whether it is through an urban tree nursery, residential space, business, etc. By replacing run-down, contaminated sites with managed trees, Syracuse would become an even more productive, healthy, and aesthetically pleasing place to reside. The overall objective of my research is to understand the history of these sites and what conditions exist there today in order to plan for future mitigation and potential of each site. II. Research Question and Hypothesis According to the EPA, the average concentration of copper, lead, and zinc in natural soils is 10ppm, 30ppm, and 50ppm, respectively (A&L Lab Inc., 2010). I hypothesize that the concentrations of these three metals (Cu, Pb, and Zn) in the soil of the three brownfield sites will be higher than the EPA accepted average. Using my data collected I will assess a broader question of whether each site is viable for implementation of an urban tree nursery and what phytoremediation techniques can be applied there. III. Methods Site Selection The criteria I used for selecting brownfield sites to sample on related to making soil sampling possible and to the future of the site as an urban tree nursery. To ease in soil sampling I chose sites that met the following criteria: 1) vacant land use 2) I was able to access them i.e. no fences or barriers prevented me from entering, and 3) proximity to the SUNY-ESF campus. To find
  5. 5. 5 which sites were vacant, I used ArcGIS to select for vacant brownfields and found that 37 out of 137 brownfields were classified as such. From the 37 brownfield sites, I used GoogleMaps to assess accessibility and proximity to campus. Once the site met the aforementioned criteria I narrowed my selection down to three sites with criteria for a potential urban tree nursery: 1) the site was relatively flat and 2) had minimal vegetation or infrastructure present. Soil Sampling At each site, I collected three soil samples by digging underneath the leaf litter, moss, or grass, rocks, and debris. I chose a spot to begin sampling and then collected the other two samples on a transect with 10 feet between each sampling spots. I labeled each sample and placed it in a bag for later analysis. ICP Preparation and Analysis Once the samples were collected I prepared them for analysis of existing heavy metals: Copper, Zinc, and Lead. Each sample was left to dry for 6 days and then was prepared for testing. I weighed 5 grams of each sample to the nearest milligram, placed the sample in 100mL of 10% nitric acid solution and shook them for 30 minutes. I then filtered 15 mL of each sample and had them tested for the heavy metals using an Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) Machine. Results were reported in parts per million but since the solution was diluted by a ratio of 100 mL/soil weight in grams I multiplied the results by 20 times (Balogh, 2013). Vegetation Recommendations In order to make recommendations for each site’s potential for an urban tree nursery I assessed the existing conditions upon visiting the site. I confirmed whether it was a relatively flat surface and took a basic inventory of the plants on site with the help of Catherine Landis (Landis, 2013).
  6. 6. 6 I then did research into many journal articles, guidelines, and past studies to decide what could be planted on site to remediate the soil and also provide an urban tree stock. IV. Results Soil Metal Concentrations For the South Salina Street site, I was able to accept my hypothesis that the concentration of heavy metals in the soil is higher than the EPA accepted average (Figure 1). The EPA accepted averages for copper, lead and zinc are 30ppm, 10ppm, and 50ppm, respectively (A&L Lab Inc., 2010). At the South Salina Street site there was an average copper (Cu) concentration of 64.53 ppm, higher than the average in natural soils. There was an average lead (Pb) concentration of 191.47 ppm, which is much higher than the natural average. There was an average zinc (Zn) concentration of 101.87 ppm, also higher than the natural average. For 101 Chester Street, I was only able to accept this hypothesis for lead and not for copper or zinc (Figure 2). This site’s average concentration of lead was 69.33ppm, higher than the natural average but the averages for copper and zinc were 10.67 ppm and 25.6ppm, respectively. For the 900 North Clinton Street site I was able to accept my hypothesis for both copper and lead, but not for zinc (Figure 3). There was an average copper (Cu) concentration of 32.35 ppm and an average lead (Pb) concentration of 47.47ppm, both higher than the accepted averages. There was an average zinc (Zn) concentration of 49.6ppm which is just under the accepted average of 50ppm.
  7. 7. 7 Average Heavy Metal Concentration (ppm) 250.00 Lead Present 191.47 200.00 150.00 100.00 Copper Present 64.53 50.00 Zinc Present 101.87 Natural Copper 30 Natural Zinc 50 Natural Lead 10 0.00 Heavy Metal Tested Figure 1. Average Heavy Metal Concentrations (Cu, Pb, Zn) Present vs. Average EPA Accepted Concentrations: 1321 South Salina Street Syracuse, NY Brownfield 80.00 Lead Present 69.33 Average Heavy Metal Concentration (ppm) 70.00 Natural Zinc 50 60.00 50.00 Natural Copper 30 40.00 30.00 20.00 10.00 Copper Present 10.67 Zinc Present 25.60 Natural Lead 10 0.00 Heavy Metal Tested Figure 2. Average Heavy Metal Concentrations (Cu, Pb, Zn) Present vs. Average Accepted EPA Concentrations: 101 Chester Street Syracuse, NY Brownfield
  8. 8. 8 Average Heavy Metal Concentration (ppm) 60.00 Lead Present 47.47 50.00 Copper Present 32.53 40.00 Zinc Present 49.60 Natural Zinc 50 Natural Copper 30 30.00 20.00 Natural Lead 10 10.00 0.00 Heavy Metals Tested Figure 3. Average Heavy Metal Concentrations (Cu, Pb, Zn) Present vs. Average EPA Accepted Concentrations: 900 North Clinton Street Syracuse, NY Brownfield Vegetation and Site Conditions Present Site Site Conditions (See Appendix Vegetation Found (Landis, 2013) Part C for photos) -.33 acres -Very woody area 1321 South Salina -Fenced in area but the gate was -Would be costly and time Street Syracuse NY wide open consuming to clear the area for an -Lots of trash and signs of human urban tree nursery inhabitance -0.8 acres -Multiple grasses: -Completely flat and very open area Narrow leaf plantain 101 Chester St. making it ideal for an urban tree Crab grass Syracuse, NY nursery -Dandelions, clovers -At the start of a dead end street -Mosses:
  9. 9. 9 -Tree line one the side of the Bryumargentenium(sidewalk crack property had some trash strewn moss) -Trees: Box elder -2.47 acres Street Syracuse, NY -The site was across the street from woody plants trying to colonize a warehouse with many trucks -It looked like some trees had -Slope and rough terrain recently been removed -Very rocky soil 900 North Clinton -Old field succession in place with -Goldenrod plants V. Discussion In order to determine if there were anomalies in my dataset than I would need previously completed research for the three brownfield sites to compare my data to. There is some variability in the metal concentrations taken for each individual site but that could just be that certain areas of the site have varying concentrations. For example, for the South Salina Street site there was a range of 148.8ppm of copper concentration for the soil samples. This range of values does not necessarily mean that the results are incorrect but it could warrant further research into the soil chemistry of the site. My findings supported my assumptions because there were in fact some soil samples that had average concentrations that greatly exceeded the EPA accepted averages, such as the 265.6ppm concentration of lead for one of the South Salina Street samples. The fact that these sites are classified as brownfields inherently means that there must be a dangerous or hazardous level of contamination present but this research further reinforced the brownfield classification for each site.
  10. 10. 10 Best Site for Urban Tree Nursery and Recommendations for Vegetation Based on the aforementioned results, I believe that out of the three sites visited, 101 Chester Street Syracuse, NY has the most potential for the development of a small urban tree nursery. This site had the lowest average concentrations of copper (10.67ppm) and zinc (25.6ppm) and the second lowest average concentration of lead (69.33ppm). In terms of site conditions, it had minimal vegetation already present and was very flat and relatively spacious. Research on specific trees to implement in these areas suggests that there is no set formula for what should be planted based on what conditions exist there. One idea for trees to plant is willows and poplars because of their ability to remediate soil (Westphal et. al., n.d.). Another important consideration to make when choosing plants would be to choose native plants. If Chester Street were to become an urban tree nursery the city parks department could choose native plants that would potentially bring back native fauna (Sullivan, 2013). Figure 4. These images show the current state (above) and potential future (right) for 101 Chester St. Figure 4.Present-day 101 Chester St. (above) and the potential future for the site as an urban tree nursery.
  11. 11. 11 Comparison to Completed Research Compared to research done by Gallagher on a brownfield in Jersey City, NJ I also found higher than average concentrations of copper, lead, and zinc on the three brownfields (Gallagher, 2008). My research methods were much simpler and involved testing for fewer contaminants but nonetheless my research further provided Gallagher’s statement that copper, lead, and zinc are common on brownfields. Further Study My results did meet my expectations for finding concentrations of heavy metals in the soil of the brownfield sites; however, there is always room for the improvement of an experiment. I planned to visit five brownfield sites but time and daylight constraints prevented that goal. With the right resources, future research can be done to test not just these 3 brownfield sites but all 37 vacant brownfields in Syracuse, NY. Having additional sites to compare would help verify the presence of copper, lead, and zinc on brownfield sites. It could also allow for further assessment of what makes a site viable for an urban tree nursery and would increase the number of potential sites. Besides copper, lead, and zinc, one could test for other heavy metals such as cadmium, chromium, and mercury as some other researchers have done (Roy et. al, 2005). Obviously the soils of the three sites contain much more than just heavy metals so future studies could test for the presence of petroleum distillates and byphenols (Sullivan, 2013). Another area for further research outside the scope of this project would be to study public knowledge and perception of brownfields. A survey with Syracuse city residents about brownfields and mitigation techniques would give further insight into the social acceptability, potential funding, and overall possibility of this idea.
  12. 12. 12 VI. Conclusion For all three vacant brownfield sites in the city of Syracuse, NY I found above average concentrations of at least one heavy metal tested for: copper, lead, or zinc. For the South Salina St. site, there were above EPA average concentrations for all three metals. This re-altering of soil chemistry could be due to past land use and either poor management or neglect for the site. Though there is much more occurring underneath the layers of Earth at these sites, understanding the basics of the soil chemistry allows one to understand the need for further research and remediation of the site. Before developing on this land more extensive studies must be completed to be aware of unnatural heavy metal concentrations. As these sites stand now they are eyesores, potential health hazards, and a general waste of valuable city land. Urban tree nurseries are one way that we can not only remediate these sites but add to a city’s aesthetics, provide valuable resources within the city limits, make use of vacant land, increase ecological benefits from the trees, and prevent erosion or further deposition of contaminants (Westphal, et. al., n.d.). 50% of the world’s population lives in the urban environment on urban soil. It is essential that we understand the components and history of this soil to protect the health of our ecosystem and all living organisms that surround this soil. In remediating the soil from heavy metals such as high concentrations of copper, lead, and zinc development of an urban tree nursery can provide many benefits for the city of Syracuse, NY.
  13. 13. 13 VII. Appendix A. Raw Data Table 1. Heavy metal concentration data for each sample, average concentrations, and the range of the concentrations for all three sites: 1321 . Salina St, 101 Chester St., and 900 N. Clinton St. Site Cu (ppm) Pb (ppm) Zn (ppm) Description 1321 S. Salina St 1 16 265.6 161.6 2 14.4 132.8 51.2 3 163.2 176 92.8 Average 64.53 191.47 101.87 Range 148.8 132.8 110.4 4 6.4 65.6 24 5 8 54.4 30.4 6 17.6 88 22.4 10.67 69.33 25.60 11.2 33.6 8 7 28.8 60.8 62.4 8 51.2 46.4 Closest to entry gate 48 Farthest from entry gate 101 Chester St. Average Range Closest to road Farthest from road 900 N. Clinton St. 9 Average Range 17.6 35.2 38.4 32.53 47.47 49.60 33.6 25.6 24 Closest to road Farthest from road
  14. 14. 14 B. Site location Figure 5. This figure displays the location of the brownfield areas I collected soil samples from in Syracuse, NY in relation to one another.
  15. 15. 15 C. Site Photos 1321 South Salina Street, Syracuse NY (GoogleMaps) Aerial Photo (GoogleMaps) Ground Photos (Bishop, 2013) (Landis, 2013)
  16. 16. 16 101 Chester Street, Syracuse NY 13210 (Landis, 2013) Aerial Photo (GoogleMaps) Ground Photos (GoogleMaps) (Bishop, 2013)
  17. 17. 17 900 North Clinton Street Syracuse NY 13210 Aerial Photo (GoogleMaps) Ground Photos (GoogleMaps) (Landis, 2013) Solar Street!
  18. 18. 18 VIII. References A&L Great Lakes Laboratories (2010) Metal Concentrations in Natural Soils. Fort Wayne, Indiana. Date Accessed: 2 December 2013. http://www.algreatlakes.com/PDF/factsheets/ALGLFS25_Metal_Concentrations_in_Na ural_Soils.pdf Balogh S (2013) Assessment of Lead Contamination in Urban Soils: Preparing a Sample for ICP Analysis. EFB 220 Urban Ecology. Gallagher FJ, Pechmann I, Bogden JD, Grabosky J, Weis P (2008) Soil metal concentrations and vegetative assemblage structure in an urban brownfield. Environmental Pollution (153) pp. 351-361. http://www.gallaghergreen.com/EP153.pdf Hinchman RR, Negri MC, Gatliff EG (n.d.) Phytoremediation: Using Green Plants to Clean Up Contaminated Soil, Groundwater, and Wastewater. Argonne National Laboratory and Applied Natural Sciences, Inc. pp. 1-13. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.26.2529&rep=rep1&type=pdf KanapluJ (2004) S. Salina St. Brownfields, Syracuse, NY Integrating Innovative and Conventional Remedial Techniques into the Design of a Temporary Demonstration Park http://www.esf.edu/la/capstones/cs2004/Kanaplue_proposal_04.pdf. Landis C (2013) Field Note Inventory of Basic Plants on Brownfield Sites visited and Site Photos. 4 December 2013. Roy S, Labelle S, Mehta P, Mihoc A, Fortin N, Masson C, Leblanc R, Châteauneuf G, SuraC, Gallipeau C, Olsen C, Delisle S, Labrecque M, Greer CW ( 2005) Phytoremediation of Heavy Metal and PAH-Contaminated BrownfieldSites. National Research Council Canada. Plant and Soil (2005) 272: 277–290. DOI 10.1007/s11104-004-5295-9
  19. 19. 19 Schilling JM (n.d.) The Revitalization of Vacant Properties: Where Broken Windows Meet Smart Growth. Internation City-County Management Association. Pp. 1-43. http://www.usmayors.org/brownfields/library/Revitalization_of_Vacant_Properties.pdf Sullivan P (2013) Syracuse, NY Brownfield Data. Atlantic States Legal Foundation. US EPA (2013) Brownfields and Land Revitalization. Date Accessed: 17 November 2013. http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/index.html US EPA (2013) What is Sustainability? Date Accessed: 10 December 2013. http://www.epa.gov/sustainability/basicinfo.htm. Westphal LM, Isebrands JG (n.d.) Phytoremediation of Chicago’s Brownfields: Consideration of Ecological Approaches and Social Issues. pp. 1-9. Date Accessed: 5 December 2013. http://naturalsystems.uchicago.edu/urbanecosystems/calumet/cdrom/problem%20solving Westphal%20and%20Isebrands%202001.pdf.

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