Metal concentrations and distribution in paint waste generated during bridge rehabilitation in New York State

Zhan Shu, Lisa Axe, Kauser Jahan, Kandalam V. Ramanujachary, Carl Kochersberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Between 1950 and 1980, lead and chromium along with other metals have been used in paint coatings to protect bridges from corrosion. In New York State with 4500 bridges in 11 Regions 2385 of the bridges have been rehabilitated and subsequently repainted after 1989 when commercial use of lead based paint was prohibited. The purpose of this research was to address the concentration and distribution of trace metals in the paint waste generated during bridge rehabilitation. Using hypothesis testing and stratified sampling theory, a representative sample size of 24 bridges from across the state was selected that resulted in 117 paint waste samples. Field portable X-ray fluorescence (FP-XRF) analysis revealed metal concentrations ranged from 5 to 168,090mgkg-1 for Pb, 49,367 to 799,210mgkg-1 for Fe, and 27 to 425,510mgkg-1 for Zn. Eighty percent of the samples exhibited lead concentrations greater than 5000mgkg-1. The elevated iron concentrations may be attributed to the application of steel grit as an abrasive blasting material routinely used by state Departments of Transportation in the paint removal process. Other metals including Ba and Cr were observed in the paint waste as well. As a result of the paint formulation, metals were found to be associated in the paint waste (Pb correlated with Cr (r=0.85)). The elevated metal concentrations observed raises concern over the potential impact of leaching from this waste stream.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-270
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


  • Bridge
  • Metal
  • Minerals
  • Paint waste
  • Pigment


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