Madden, C, Pringle, JK, Jeffery, AJ, Wisniewski, KD, Heaton, V, Oliver, IW, Glanville, HC, Stimpson, IG, Dick, H, Eeley, M and Goodwin, J (2022) Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) Analysis of Heavy Metal Contamination in Graveyards with Contrasting Soil Types. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. ISSN 0944-1344

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Human remains have been interred in burial grounds since historic times. Although the re-use of graveyards differs from one country, region or time-period to another, over time graveyard soil may become contaminated or enriched with heavy metal elements. This paper aims to present heavy metal element soil analysis from two UK church graveyard study sites with contrasting necrosols, but similar burial densities and known burial ages dating back to the 16<jats:sup>th</jats:sup> Century and some possibly older than 1,000 years. Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) element analyses were undertaken, both <jats:italic>in-situ </jats:italic>on surface locations and laboratory-based on surface and near-surface soil pellets. Results show elevated levels of Pb, Mn, Cr, Cu, Zn and Ca in both necrosols when compared to background values. Element concentration anomalies remained consistently higher than background samples down to 2 m bgl, where sampled, but reduced away from church buildings which may reflect burial densities. Element concentration anomalies were higher in the clay-rich necrosol than in sandy necrosol. Field-based rapid measurements gave similar relative concentration values to laboratory-based soil pellet measurements, although laboratory-based analyses were more precise. Study results implications suggest that long-used necrosols are likely to be more contaminated with heavy-metal elements than similar soil outside graveyards with implications for burial grounds management, adjacent populations and where burial grounds have been deconsecrated and turned to residential dwellings.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Chemical and Physical Sciences
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2022 11:56
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 07:19

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