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Road dust continues to be a major potential reservoir of Pb in the urban environment, and an important potential component of child Pb exposure. This study presents ICP-AES analyses of metals in 72 samples of road dust (<250 μm) collected in the urban core of Atlanta, Georgia. In the Downtown area, median Pb concentrations are ~63 mg/kg Pb, with high values of 278 mg/kg. For comparison, median Pb values in a nearby residential neighborhood (also in the urban core) were ~93 mg/kg, with a high of 972 mg/kg. Geospatial variability is high, with significant variation observed over tens to hundreds of meters. Spearman Rank Correlation tests suggest that Pb and other metals (Cu, Ni, V, Zn) are associated with iron and manganese oxide phases in the residential area, as reported in other cities. However, Pb in the Downtown area is not correlated with the others, suggesting a difference in source or transport history. Given these complexities and the expected differences between road dust and soil Pb, future efforts to assess exposure risk should therefore be based on spatially distributed sampling at very high spatial resolution.


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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(6), 2020-2030. doi:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.