The role of resuspended soil in lead flows in the California South Coast Air Basin

Allison R. Harris, Cliff I. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The inputs and outputs of airborne lead in the South Coast Air Basin of California (SOCAB) are quantified according to standard mass balance calculations. Results for 2001 show that approximately 49 000 kg of lead exit the Basin each year, but traditional sources contribute only about 6500 kg of lead each year. We resolve this discrepancy through a simple computer model that quantifies the resuspension of lead-containing particles. Our results suggest that these lead particles were deposited during the years of leaded gasoline use and that resuspension is responsible for generating an additional 54000 kg of airborne lead each year. This agrees roughly with estimated outputs. Thus, we conclude that resuspension, although an insignificant source of airborne lead during the era of leaded fuel, became a principal source in the SOCAB as lead emissions from vehicles declined. The results of the resuspension model further suggest that soil lead levels will remain elevated for many decades, in which case resuspension will remain a major source well into the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7410-7415
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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