WATER AIR AND SOIL POLLUTION, vol.166, pp.251-264, 2005 (SCI-Expanded)
Soils along highway environments typically contain high concentrations of heavy metals because of non-point contamination sources, most commonly vehicle exhaust and wear of vehicle parts. Pb, Zn, Cu, Cr, Sb, Ba and Ra concentrations of soils along roadways with very low traffic volumes in a rural portion of San Patricio County, Texas, have been studied in order to distinguish the effects of a point source (an industrial waste landfill) from the effects of traffic. The highest concentrations of Zn, Cr, Sb, Ba and Ra were detected in soils along the access road to the landfill. The association of high Ba values with high Ra values suggests that the most probable sources of this contamination were oilfield waste from storage tank bottoms, which were disposed of in landfill waste pits and were also spread over roads within the landfill to decrease dust. Outside the landfill along a different roadway, a second contamination area which was characterized by very high Ba but low Sb and Ra concentrations compared to background values, has been detected. Drilling mud spill is the most probable source of this contamination.