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Estimation of heavy-metal contamination in soil using reflectance spectroscopy and partial least-squares regression

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Lead (Pb) poisoning from anthropogenic sources continues to threaten the health of urban children. Mapping Pb distribution on a large scale is imperative to identify hotspots and reduce Pb poisoning. To assess the feasibility of using reflectance spectroscopy to map soil Pb and other heavy metal abundance, the relationship between surface soil metal concentrations and hyperspectral reflectance measurements was examined via partial least-squares regression (PLSR) modelling. Soil samples were taken from four study sites. Metal concentrations were determined by inductively coupled plasma-atomic-emission spectrometry (ICP-AES) analysis, and reflectance was measured with an ASD (Analytical Spectral Devices) field spectrometer covering the spectral region of 350-2500 nm. Pb displayed an exponential decrease as a function of distance from the roadway, demonstrating the depositional patterns from leaded gas combustion which remain on the landscape 20 years after the phase-out of leaded gasoline. Calibration samples were used to derive the PLSR algorithm, and validation samples assessed the model's predictive ability. The correlation coefficients between the lab-determined abundance and the abundance predicted from PLSR calibration for all metals except copper were at or above 0.970, with the correlation coefficient for Pb the highest of all metals (0.992). Manganese, zinc and Pb had significant coefficients of determination (0.808, 0.760 and 0.746, respectively) for the validation samples. These results suggest that Pb and other heavy metal concentrations can be retrieved from spectral reflectance at high accuracy. Reflectance spectroscopy thus has potential to map the spatial distribution of Pb abundance with the aim of improving children's health in an urban environment.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Earth Sciences, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Indianapolis, IN, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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