Monitoring of Contaminant Input into Roadside Soil from Road Runoff and Airborne Deposition

Non-point sources of traffic-related pollution become a major concern as they – compared to the point-source inputs – are more difficult to be defined or controlled. It is crucial to evaluate the fraction of traffic-related contamination that is transported to the road surroundings as it could negatively impact soil, surface water and groundwater. This study describes two means through which pollutants leave the road to the surrounding environment. Three German motorways were selected (A4, A555, and A61), where runoff and deposits were analyzed to determine pollutant load moving into the roadside soil or into the drainage system. Each of the three motorways carries approximately 70,000 vehicles a day on 4 to 6 driving lanes; and they cover a broad range of truck participation in the total traffic load ranging from 5.4% to 19.8%. The three motorways represent several topographical and landscape features as forest with noise barrier and parallel as well as perpendicular orientation to the main wind direction. Sampling of runoff and deposition was done on monthly basis. Bulk deposition was collected in Bergerhoff vessels at two heights (1.5 m and 0.3 m above the ground) and in 1 m, 2.5 m, 5 m and 10 m distances from the road edge. The results showed that heavy metals as well as large amounts of mineral compounds are moving from the driving lanes into the roadside environment. This includes sodium from applying deicing salts in winter seasons, which could be found in soil, dust and water samples. Calcium and iron were also detected in almost comparable concentrations. The annual deposition flow (bulk deposition) measured at a height of 1.5 m was higher than the comparative values for urban areas and background measuring points. The spatial distribution of material deposition showed clear differences between the three motorways. The pollutant load in deposition measured near the ground surface was higher than those measured at 1.5 m above the land surface. At all three sites, a clear negative correlation between pollutant load and the distance from the roadside could be found. Nearly 90% of the concentration values of heavy metals in road runoff were below or in the range of the test values for seepage water in the German Soil Protection and Contamination Ordinance. The pH-values around 7 in runoff and adjacent soil provide a good retention capacity in the soil for the heavy metal input.


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  • Accession Number: 01607952
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 29 2016 8:33AM