Portable X-ray fluorescence in the characterisation of arsenic contamination associated with industrial buildings at a heritage arsenic works site near Redruth, Cornwall, UK

Potts, P.; Ramsey, M. H. and Carlisle, J. (2002). Portable X-ray fluorescence in the characterisation of arsenic contamination associated with industrial buildings at a heritage arsenic works site near Redruth, Cornwall, UK. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 4(6) pp. 1017–1024.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1039/b207259a

Abstract

An investigation using in situ analysis by portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) has shown that contamination present on industrial buildings at a heritage arsenic works site near Redruth, Cornwall, UK results from the absorption of arsenic by porous and semi-porous building materials that were in contact with arsenic-rich flue gases. Results from a preliminary survey indicate that arsenic remains locked in these materials and is being gradually leached out by weathering processes. This weathering causes general contamination of the adjacent building surfaces averaging 1845 mug g(-1) arsenic, presumably caused, by evaporation of leach solutions in contact with air at the surface of the building materials. More extensive crystalline deposits were found under arches protected from dissolution and further dispersion by rain water. These deposits appeared to comprise calcium sulfate (gypsum), associated with on average between 1.2 and 6.8% m/m As: In situ PXRF proved to be highly effective in locating sources of contamination at the site and in providing data that allowed a hypotheses for the origin of this contamination to be formulated and tested in the field.

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