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Road sediment, an underutilized material in environmental science research: A review of perspectives on United States studies with international context
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  • Matthew Dietrich,
  • Michael J O'shea,
  • Reto Gieré,
  • Mark P. S. Krekeler
Matthew Dietrich
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis

Corresponding Author:mjdietri@iu.edu

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Michael J O'shea
University of Pennsylvania
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Reto Gieré
University of Pennsylvania
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Mark P. S. Krekeler
Miami University
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Road sediment is a pervasive environmental medium that acts as both source and sink for a variety of natural and anthropogenic particles and often is enriched in heavy metals. Road sediment is generally understudied in the United States (U.S.) relative to other environmental media and compared to countries such as China and the United Kingdom (U.K.). However, the U.S. is an ideal target for these studies due to the diverse climates and wealth of geo-chemical, socioeconomic, demographic, and health data. This review outlines the existing U.S. road sediment literature while also providing key international perspectives and context. Furthermore, the most comprehensive table of U.S. road sediment studies to date is presented, which includes elemental concentrations , sample size, size fraction, collection and analytical methods, as well as digestion procedure. Overall, there were observed differences in studies by sampling time period for elemental concentrations, but not necessarily by climate in the U.S. Other key concepts addressed in this road sediment review include the processes controlling its distribution, the variety of nomenclature used, an-thropogenic enrichment of heavy metals, electron microscopy, health risk assessments , remediation, and future directions of road sediment investigations. Going forward, it is recommended that studies with a higher geographic diversity are performed that consider smaller cities and rural areas. Furthermore, environmental justice must be a focus as community science studies of road sediment can elucidate pollution issues impacting areas of high need. Finally, this review calls for consistency in sampling, data reporting, and nomenclature to effectively expand work on understudied elements, particles, and background sediments.
Jun 2022Published in Journal of Hazardous Materials volume 432 on pages 128604. 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.128604