Examination of New York State surface soil background concentrations for select heavy metals
Golubski, Jason R
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The University at Buffalo, beginning in June 2004, conducted a search for previously collected surface soil background data. The primary source of information proved to be Remedial Investigation reports for New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) inactive hazardous waste sites at which surface soil background samples often were collected. Other sources of information included municipalities, private entities, and other miscellaneous sources, resulting in as many as 600 samples from 400 locations throughout New York State. As part of this project, the University conducted a nationwide survey of states' environmental departments to determine how background concentrations are utilized. Survey results indicated that New York is one of the first states to re-examine the relevance of background conditions during remedial actions and one of the first to conduct a statewide surface soil background study. Collected data were characterized by multiple sample location classifications including urban and rural, on and off hazardous waste sites, and future intended land use (unrestricted and industrial) as defined by the NYSDEC. Two-population two tailed t -tests were employed to determine whether the data subsets were equivalent. Findings included varied dependence of average arsenic, chromium, and zinc concentrations on sample location while lead samples exhibited a strong dependence on the classifications. Hypothesis testing indicated that there is a significant difference in concentrations when background samples were collected from urban and rural areas. Other findings included that the cleanup objectives currently used by the NYSDEC are generally representative of New York State background conditions.