Lead, Zinc And Cadmium Content In Structures In Jasper And Newton Counties, Missouri

Date of Graduation

Fall 2004


Master of Science in Chemistry


Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Chair

Richard Biagioni


In Jasper and Newton counties of Missouri, there have been anecdotal reports that mine tailings were included in the concrete, plaster and mortar used in local homes. The area is part of the Tri-State mining district in which yard soil replacement has been conducted to lessen metals exposure. Approximately 200 samples were taken from sites in southwest Missouri. The purpose of this study was to obtain valid toxic metals concentrations for the samples, compare sample aggregate to Tri-State ore components, and to evaluate alternative explanations for the metals content. Samples were analyzed for the metals by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES). Levels were typically 100 to 500 ppm Pb, 50 to 200ppm CD and 500 to 20,000ppm Zn. Control samples from the Springfield area did not show significant amounts of the metals. Depth studies were condicted which showed uniform composition throughout the samples. Isolation of higher density components of the samples allowed for X-ray diffraction crystallography, which confirmed the presence of sphalerite, hemimorphite and other ore components. Thin sections of samples provided further support for mine tailings inclusions based on particulate shape and birefringence. Gallium, a known component of some Tri-State ores, was also detected in samples, ranging from 0.6 to 12 ppm. The sphalerite portion of a piece of ore from the area had 113ppm Gallium. The levels of the metals in local river sand rendered the river sand an unlikely source of the metals in the structures.


mine tailings, Tri-State, Joplin, plaster, mortar, concrete, lead, zinc, cadmium

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© Jeffrey W. Pavlik