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  Heavy Metal Levels in the Surface Soils

P. Loro1

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to complete a database of heavy metals in the surface soils of agricultural and woodlot areas in New Brunswick. One hundred and eighteen surface soil samples were taken from agricultural areas across the province in 1997, and 115 surface soil samples were taken from woodlots from across the province in 1998. The samples were analyzed for trace elements including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, selenium and zinc. Arsenic, lead, molybdenum, selenium and, in particular, nickel levels were above the current interim assessment criteria for municipal or industrial waste application to land in some locations. Elevated nickel levels were observed from Madawaska County down the St. John River Valley to about Maugerville and appear to be of bedrock origin as both agricultural and woodlot soils were consistently above the interim assessment criterion. Elevated arsenic levels, on the other hand, occurred randomly in a number of locations throughout the province. There were relatively few locations where the soil concentration of lead, molybdenum and selenium exceeded the guideline limit.


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

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