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Geosciences 2018, 8(1), 13; doi:10.3390/geosciences8010013

Geochemical Characteristics of Soils on Ellis Island, New York-New Jersey, Sixty Years after the Abandonment of the Hospital Complex

1
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ 07305, USA
2
Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA
3
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677, USA
4
Department of Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ 07030, USA
5
Office of The Provost, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ 07305, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 September 2017 / Revised: 18 December 2017 / Accepted: 22 December 2017 / Published: 4 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Environmental and Medical Geochemistry)
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Abstract

Soil plays many critical roles in ecosystem health. As urbanization expands into once industrial and commercial lands, there is increased potential for human exposure to soil contaminants, including heavy metals introduced by past anthropogenic activities. Thus, it is important to assess soil contamination in such areas for public health concerns. In this study, we investigated the physico-chemical characteristics of soils from an abandoned hospital complex on Ellis Island, New York (NY) – New Jersey (NJ) to assess the geochemical conditions of the local soil environment and metal contamination from historical activities, including coal-burning and use of lead arsenate insecticide and lead paint. The soil texture, nutrient content and heavy metal (As, Pb, Cr, Cd, Cu and Hg) concentrations were determined and their impact was evaluated. Soils were mostly sandy loam with C:N ratios of about 20:1. Heavy metals were elevated compared to background soils. Concentrations of acid extractable As and Pb ranged from 8.12 to 26.3 mg·kg−1 and 257 to 1008 mg·kg−1, respectively. Total-Hg concentrations varied from 0.191 to 0.899 mg·kg−1, with the higher levels likely from local coal-burning and deposition from the prevailing westerly winds. Overall, we find that even after 60 years of abandonment, the impact to Ellis Island soil from past human activities can still be observed. View Full-Text
Keywords: Ellis Island; soil; anthropogenic activities; heavy metal; contamination; nutrients; arsenic; lead; chromium; cadmium; copper; mercury Ellis Island; soil; anthropogenic activities; heavy metal; contamination; nutrients; arsenic; lead; chromium; cadmium; copper; mercury
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Bu, K.; Freile, D.; Cizdziel, J.V.; Richards, J.; Sidhu, V.; Duzgoren-Aydin, N.S. Geochemical Characteristics of Soils on Ellis Island, New York-New Jersey, Sixty Years after the Abandonment of the Hospital Complex. Geosciences 2018, 8, 13.

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