Spatial distribution of lead in Sacramento, California, USA

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Mar 17;12(3):3174-87. doi: 10.3390/ijerph120303174.


Chronic exposure to lead remains a health concern in many urban areas; Sacramento, California is one example, with state surveillance data showing nearly 3% of screened children reported with blood lead levels over 4.5 μg/dL in 2009. To investigate the environmental exposure, 91 soil samples were collected and analyzed by ICP-AES and ICP-MS for 14 elements. An additional 28 samples were collected from areas of focus and analyzed by hand-held X-ray fluorescence spectrometry for Pb and Zn. Analysis of the metals data revealed non-normal distributions and positive skewness, consistent with anthropogenic input. In addition, high correlation coefficients (≥0.75) of metal concentrations in Cd-Pb, Cd-Zn, Pb-Zn, and Sb-Sn pairs suggest similarities in the input mechanisms. Semivariograms generated from Pb and associated metals reveal these metals to exhibit spatial correlation. A prediction map of lead concentrations in soil was generated by ordinary kriging, showing elevated concentrations in soil located in the central, older area of Sacramento where historic traffic density and industrial activity have been historically concentrated. XRF analysis of Pb and Zn from additional samples verifies elevated concentrations in the central areas of Sacramento as predicted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Cities
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Environmental Pollution / analysis*
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Metals / analysis
  • Soil / chemistry*
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Spatial Analysis


  • Metals
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Lead