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  Heavy Metals in Agricultural Soils of New Brunswick

P. Loro1

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to create a database of heavy metals in agricultural topsoils which could be used to establish if the interim assessment criteria in New Brunswick's Guideline for Issuing Certificates of Approval for the Utilization of Wastes as Soil Additives, May 1996 support the application of non-agricultural wastes to land. One hundred and eighteen samples were taken from agricultural topsoils across the province. The samples were analyzed for trace elements including arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, copper, chromium, lead, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, selenium and zinc. Lead, arsenic and, in particular, nickel levels were above the current interim assessment criteria for municipal or industrial waste application to land in some locations. The agricultural areas from Madawaska County down the St. John River Valley to about Fredericton were high in nickel which appeared to be of bedrock origin. Elevated arsenic levels, on the other hand, were found in a number of isolated locations throughout the province and may be related to human activity. There was only one location, located on Grand Manan Island, where the soil concentration of lead exceeded the guideline limit.

1Land Resources Branch, NBDARD, Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1

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