Sanata Dama

Document Type


Date of Award



College of Science, Engineering, and Technology (COSET)

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology

Committee Chairperson

Hyun-Min Hwang

Committee Member 1

Jason Rosenzweig

Committee Member 2

Abate Wolde-Kirkos

Committee Member 3

Tuan Phan


Environmental Justice, Houston Metropolitan, ICP-MS, Trace Metals, Urban soil contamination, XRF


Urban surface soils are contaminated by trace metals from various anthropogenic sources such as traffic and industrial facilities. Socio-economically disadvantaged communities are generally located closer to these sources and likely exposed more to toxic metals. This study aims to investigate the surface soil contamination by trace metals. Surface soils were collected from parks (n=75) and playgrounds of elementary schools (n=6) located in 33 postal codes split into four groups with different economic status (average annual household income) and industrial emissions (releases reported to the Toxic Release Inventory). Postal codes were ordered into high/middle income (> $40,000/year) without emissions, high/middle income with emissions, low income (< $40,000/year) without emissions, and low income with emissions. Collected soil samples were analyzed for trace metals (Al, As, Cd, Cr, Co, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn) using microwave digester with nitric acid and ICP-MS. A confirmatory analysis was performed by XRF. The results showed that disadvantaged neighborhoods at the proximity of industrial facilities displayed the highest levels of Fe, Pb, Cu, Zn, Cd, Cr, Co, Ni and Mn with the respective mean concentrations of 1.40%, 33.1 mg/kg, 12.7 mg/kg, 94.2 mg/kg, 0.26 mg/kg, 11.7 mg/kg, 4.07 mg/kg, 8.35 mg/kg, and 228 mg/kg. While the lowest mean concentrations of 1.40%, 0.48% 13.6 mg/g, 6.70 mg/kg, 38.1 mg/kg, 0.08 mg/kg, 4.96 mg/kg, 2.11 mg/kg and 3.76 mg/kg for Al, Fe, Pb, Cu, Zn, As, Cd, Cr, Co, and Ni were detected in the samples collected in affluent neighborhoods located far from industries. This study shows that closeness to industrial facilities is likely to be an important factor for the health risk of children living in economically disadvantaged communities.



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