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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Dr Chris Ottley

Sutherland R.A., Pearson D.G. & Ottley C.J. (2007). Platinum-group elements (Ir, Pd, Pt and Rh) in road deposited sediments in two urban watersheds, Hawaii. Applied Geochemistry 22(7): 1485-1501.

Author(s) from Durham


This study represents the first detailed investigation of platinum-group elements (PGEs) in road-deposited sediment (RDS) in Hawaii, USA. Thirty-three sample locations, in two urban watersheds in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii were sampled. The <63 μm fraction of RDS was digested with aqua regia, followed by matrix separation with Dowex AG50-X8 cation exchange resin. PGEs were analyzed with inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) equipped with a desolvating nebulizer. Concentrations of Rh, Pd and Pt in residential streets reached 64, 105 and 506 ng/g, respectively. Maximum enrichment ratios, computed as RDS concentrations relative to baseline values, exceeded 400, indicating a significant anthropogenic signal with the sequence Rh > Pt > Pd. Iridium concentrations were uniformly low <1 ng/g, and enrichment ratios support a geogenic source. Significant interelement PGE correlations (Pd–Pt–Rh), combined with the magnitude of PGE pair-wise ratios (Pt/Pd, Pt/Rh and Pd/Rh), and relative percentages comparable to European RDS and roadside soil in Indiana, USA all suggest an automobile source. Attrition of PGE-loaded automobile catalytic converters and subsequent loss to the environment by exhaust emissions explains the significant environmental signal of PGEs in road environments of Hawaii. Further PGE work is required to quantify urban transport paths as PGEs are known to bioaccumulate, cause cellular damage and may have detrimental human health effects.