Lead Extraction Using Three Soil Fertility Tests and Environmental Protection Agency Method 3050

Stephanie C. Hamel, Joseph R. Heckman, Karen L. Shilke-Gartley, Bruce Hoskins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Identifying soils that contain high lead (Pb) concentrations is an important step in protecting public health from Pb poisoning. To determine if soil fertility tests (SFT) can be utilized to predict United States Environmental Protection Agency Solid Waste USEPA SW846-3050a (EPA3050) levels of Pb in soil, the EPA3050 test and three SFT: Mehlich-1 (MI), Mehlich-3 (M3) and Modified Morgan (MM), were performed on 96 soil samples from New Jersey and Delaware. Samples were collected from roadsides, urban gardens, alongside of old, painted buildings, farm fields and lawns, and one trapshoot site. Lead content ranged from 3 to 21,000 mg EPA3050 Pb/kg soil (median: 180 mg/kg). Site of sample collection was a general predictor of contamination. Percent soil organic matter (SOM) was negatively correlated to relative amount of Pb (compared to EPA3050) extracted, for all three SFT. Soil pH was negatively correlated to relative amount extracted by M1 and MM, but not for M3. Soil fertility tests generally extracted less Pb than did EPA3050 and relative extraction varied depending on the source of sample. Strong positive correlations existed for Pb amongst all four tests. Using simple linear fits, the US EPA level of concern for Pb (400 mg/kg) is predicted to be equal to M1 = 57 mg/kg, M3 = 278 mg/kg and MM = 71 mg/kg. The following equations were developed for samples containing less than 720 mg/kg EPA3050 Pb: EPA3050 Pb = 5.3(M1 Pb) + 96, (r2 = 0.49), EPA3050 Pb = 1.3(M3 Pb) + 39 (r 2 = 0.60), EPA3050 Pb = 4.7(MM Pb) + 64 (r2 = 0.74). Using these conversion equations, these SFT are useful as a preliminary screening for Pb contamination of Alfisols and Ultisols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2853-2873
Number of pages21
JournalCommunications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Issue number19-20
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


  • Mehlich-1
  • Mehlich-3
  • Modified Morgan


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