Iron ore containing elevated concentrations of trace metals was smelted at Hopewell Furnace during its 113 years of operation (1771-1883). For this study, we sampled iron ore, cast iron furnace products, slag, soil, groundwater, streamflow, and streambed sediment to determine the fate of trace metals released into the environment during the iron-smelting process. Standard techniques were used to sample and analyze all media except cast iron. We analyzed the trace-metal content of the cast iron using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, which provided rapid, on-site, nondestructive analyses for 23 elements. The artifacts analyzed included eight cast iron stoves, a footed pot, and a kettle in the Hopewell Furnace museum. We measured elevated concentrations of arsenic, copper, lead, and zinc in the cast iron. Lead concentrations as great as 3,150 parts per million were measured in the stoves. Cobalt was detectable but not quantifiable because of interference with iron. Our study found that arsenic, cobalt, and lead were not released to soil or slag, which could pose a significant health risk to visitors and employees. Instead, our study demonstrates these heavy metals remained with the cast iron and were removed from the site.
|Title||An innovative method for nondestructive analysis of cast iron artifacts at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Pennsylvania|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Park Science|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|