EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship


Survey of Water and Soil Core Samples for Heavy Metal Contamination from Madison County, KY


Environmental Health Science

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Publication Date



Contamination of water and soils by the release of heavy metals from industrial sites is a serious environmental problem. The protection of potable water sources is a worldwide public health issue, and contamination of fresh water sources affects fish and wildlife habitats in common recreational sites.

Over the past several decades improvements in analytical methodologies and instrumentation have led to advances in heavy metal analysis. Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) has become the standard in metal analysis because the low detection limits and multi-element analysis improve analytical efficiency. Methods were developed for the analysis of 22 elements from surface water and core soil samples by ICP-OES.

Water samples were taken from Wilgreen Lake and its tributaries in Madison County, Kentucky. Analysis of these samples indicate contamination possibly originating from local industrial release water and run-off. Samples were filtered in the field to remove any particulate material, then treated with 1% nitric acid. Analysis was conducted on a Spectro Ciros Vision ICP-OES. Core soil samples from the same areas were collected in the hopes of gaining a historical perspective on the release of heavy metals within the vicinity. This project focused on water and soil sampling procedures, ICP-OES method development, quantification and comparison of heavy metals to those of regulatory standard levels. Results indicate that several of the tested elements were present at concentrations above established governmental limits.

Conference Name

Federation of Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies, Louisville, KY

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