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Determining site-specific background level with geostatistics for remediation of heavy metals in neighborhood soils

Tammy M. Milillo Gaurav Sinha Joseph A. Gardella Jr.

*Corresponding author: Gaurav Sinha sinhag@ohio.edu


The choice of a relevant, uncontaminated site for the determination of site-specific background concentrations for pollutants is critical for planning remediation of a contaminated site. The guidelines used to arrive at concentration levels vary from state to state, complicating this process. The residential neighborhood of Hickory Woods in Buffalo, NY is an area where heavy metal concentrations and spatial distributions were measured to plan remediation. A novel geostatistics based decision making framework that relies on maps generated from indicator kriging (IK) and indicator co-kriging (ICK) of samples from the contaminated site itself is shown to be a viable alternative to the traditional method of choosing a reference site for remediation planning. GIS based IK and ICK, and map based analysis are performed on lead and arsenic surface and subsurface datasets to determine site-specific background concentration levels were determined to be 50 μg/g for lead and 10 μg/g for arsenic. With these results, a remediation plan was proposed which identified regions of interest and maps were created to effectively communicate the results to the environmental agencies, residents and other interested parties.

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