Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Michael Vineyard


PIXE, urban soil, heavy metals, soil contaminants


We collected samples of soil from along the East River in Queens, New York, near the Hell Gate Bridge, on the Astoria Park side of the bridge in 2019 and on the Randall’s Island Park side in 2021. We performed proton-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) analysis on the samples and found that soil closer to the Hell Gate Bridge contained higher concentrations of heavy metals, specifically lead and zinc. Many of the soil samples contained lead concentrations greater than the EPA standard of 400 ppm. We also performed PIXE analysis on a sample of the paint used on the bridge and found similar enhancements of lead and zinc. Our results indicate that the paint used on the Hell Gate Bridge is the cause of enhancements of heavy metals in the surrounding soil.



Rights Statement

In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.