Water and soil quality at two eastern-Kentucky (USA) coal fires

Trent Garrison, James C. Hower, Alan E. Fryar, Elisa D’Angelo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In this study, volatile organics and other relevant constituents in soil and water were analyzed at two fires in eastern Kentucky (the Truman Shepherd fire in Knott County and the Lotts Creek fire in Perry County). The samples were analyzed for a number of relevant constituents, notably benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes (BTEX); and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). No water contamination was noted at either site and relatively low levels of soil contamination [defined as exceeding EPA soil screening levels (SSLs)] were observed at Truman Shepherd, but numerous Lotts Creek soil samples exhibited PAH concentrations above EPA SSLs. Specifically, benzo (a)anthracene, considered a highly carcinogenic PAH, was found at over 7000 times higher than the EPA SSL for soil (32 mg/kg). BTEX concentrations were low even where PAH and other constituents were high. This is likely due to the low atomic masses and high volatilities of BTEX compounds. The PAHs with the highest concentrations at Lotts Creek were in the mid- to high atomic mass range. The discrepancy in soil contamination between the two sites is consistent with differences in total organic carbon concentrations, which may reflect differences in soil cover.

Original languageEnglish
Article number574
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Coal fire gases
  • Coal fires
  • PAHs
  • Soil and groundwater contamination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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