The Journal of Agricultural Science

Research Article

Lead contamination of roadside soil and grass in Birmingham, England, in relation to naturally occurring levels

Brian E. Daviesa1 and Pamela L. Holmesa1

a1 Department of Geography, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire


Lead was determined in soil and grass from transects across three main roads and one minor road in Birmingham, England. The pattern of enhancement of lead contents was consistent with aerial contamination by lead compounds from motor vehicle exhausts. Data from grass sampled during wet and dry weather suggested that approximately half the lead was present as a removable surface film on the grass blade. Generally, the lead content of the grass was not high enough to affect grazing cattle adversely but the growing of vegetables for human consumption might need regulation. The lead values for contaminated soil, although locally high, were within the normal range for British and American soils and, for comparable traffic volumes, were less than those reported in the U.S.A. Attention is drawn to inter-laboratory differences when reporting analyses of reference rocks and the implications for environmental research.

(Received June 01 1972)