Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Reconstructing Pittsburgh's Pollution History with Dendrochemistry: an Analysis of Trace Metal Concentrations in a Schenley Park Red Oak Tree

Johnson, Amelia (2010) Reconstructing Pittsburgh's Pollution History with Dendrochemistry: an Analysis of Trace Metal Concentrations in a Schenley Park Red Oak Tree. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (948kB) | Preview


The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has a rich history of industrial activity, particularly steel manufacturing. This, combined with other urban waste, leaves a legacy of environmental pollution across the landscape. This study compares trace metal concentration data from a Pittsburgh tree to local and national industrial production records and local climatic data. Trace metal concentrations (lead, copper, cadmium, zinc, and nickel) in the annual growth rings of a red oak tree (Quercus rubra) from Schenley Park in Pittsburgh were measured. This metal record was used to explore the consequences of pollution over the 126 year life of this tree (1881-2006). Trace metals and wet deposition sulfate concentrations are related (r2 range of 0.0631 and 0.3458) as are national steel production and regional wet deposition sulfate concentrations (r2 = 0.7670). However, these relationships break down in the 1990s as trace metal concentrations in the tree rings continue to increase and pollution inputs decrease. One potential explanation is the increasing dominance of vehicular traffic in urban systems. Nitrate emissions from vehicles could increase soil acidity and metal bioavailability, facilitating metal uptake by plants. This suggests that Pittsburgh pollution legacy issues should be a continued concern as increased trace metal availability will impact both urban ecosystems and human populations.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Johnson, Ameliaalj31@pitt.eduALJ31
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBain, Danieldbain@pitt.eduDBAIN
Committee MemberBuckley,
Committee MemberAbbott, Markmabbott1@pitt.eduMABBOTT1
Committee MemberCollins,
Date: 8 September 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 6 May 2010
Approval Date: 8 September 2010
Submission Date: 24 July 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: biogeochemistry; Clean Air Act; coal combustion; environmental science; steel manufacturing; urban pollution
Other ID:, etd-07242010-105312
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:53
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item