International Journal of Geosciences, 2011, 2, 48-54
doi:10.4236/ijg.2011.21005 Published Online February 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJG
Heavy Metals in Soils around the Cemen t Factory in
Rockfort, Kingston, Jamaica
Arpita Mandal1, Mitko Voutchkov2
1Department of Geogr a phy and Geology, University of West Indies, Mona, Jamaica
2Department o f Phy si cs, University of West Indies, Mona, Jamaica
E-mail:, mitko.voutchk o v@uw imona.e du .j m
Received July 22, 2010; revised July 25, 2010; accepted July 28, 2010
This study deals with the distribution of heavy metals in soils around one of the most important industries in
Kingston, Jamaica i.e. the Carib Cement factory at Rockfort. The dust emitted from the Caribbean Cement
Company Limited (Carib Cement), located in Rockfort, Kingston, gets deposited in course of time over the
soil, leaves and forms a grey cover on the surrounding soils. Geochemical analysis of the top soil, collected
from the present study area has been undertaken to assess the impact of the dust emitted from the cement
factory and its effect on the surrounding ecosystem. A total of seventeen top soil samples of 0-10 cm depth
were collected from the close vicinity of the Rockfort and the Harbour view area and analysed by INAA,
AAS, XRF for major, minor and trace elements. Results show that the top soils of the study area are enriched
in Pb, Zn, Cr, Cd, V, Pb, and Hg which are released into the air from the cement kilns. Results show that the
soils are enriched in Ca with a maximum value of 18% followed by Al, Fe and Na. Heavy metals in the soils
of the study area shows relatively high concentrations of zinc with a maximum of 132 ppm followed by Cr
(57) ppm and Pb (32) ppm. Maximum concentrations were found in soils sampled at a distance of 2-3 m
from the cement factory as opposed to samples collected much further ie from the Harbour View area. High
concentrations of the heavy metals in the soils near the cement factory as opposed to those further away can
be due to the emissions from the factory. A significant contribution can also come from traffic emissions as
the study area is located along one of the busiest street of Kingston, Jamaica.
Keywords: Cement, Dust, Rockfort, Kingston, Heavy Metals, Jamaica
1. Introduction
Heavy metals in urban soils are one of the main sources
of environmental pollution. Metal contamination of sur-
face soils [1], agricultural soils [2,3], from industries [4-6]
and waste disposal sites [7] are well known. Heavy met-
als in the soil can also generate airborne particles and
dust, especially in dry seasons, which affects the air
quality [8,9] Dust pollution has also been found to be
problematic around cement factories [10,11]. In a study
by Khashman and Shawabkeh 2006, soils around cement
factories show high concentrations of heavy metals espe-
cially Pb, Zn and Cd on top soils of 0-10 cm deep. Semhi
et al. 2010 in their study on dust emitted from cement
industries in Oman has shown high concentrations of
REE and heavy metals in soils within a radius of 0.5 to 2
km around the cement factory. Their studies show dust
affecting plants and the biota around the factories. Also
the fine particulates of dust can be inhaled along with air
and in course of time cause respiratory problems in peo-
ple living near and working in the factory. Hence ana-
lysizing and characterization of the constituents of dust
are very important from a health point of view. The Car-
ibbean Cement Factory located at Rockfort, Kingston
Jamaica is one of the largest industries generating
813,448 mt of cement and is in the process of increasing
its capacity to meet the growing demands of local and
export markets. An islandwide study of trace and heavy
metals in Jamaica by [12] shows maximum concentration
of Co, Al, Mn, Cu, Cd, Zn in the Central Parishes of Ja-
maica, correlating with the bauxite deposits of the island.
Very less information is available on the distribution of
metals around the Caribbean Cement factory at Rockfort.
Hence the present study was undertaken to evaluate the
environmental impact caused by emissions from the
Rockort plant, located near an area where there are no
other industries. Hence the excess concentrations of the
heavy metals in the soils if found would be resulting
from the dust emitted from the cement factory.
The area under investigation is located in Rockfort in
the Parish of Kingston in Jamaica (Figure 1(a)). The
area lies between 17˚58’00 N, 76˚44’10 W and 17˚57’29
N, 7˚43’07 W covering a total of 5.6 square kilometers.
The city of Kingston is located on an alluvial fan, fed
with sediments from the Hope River which is the largest
river in the Kingston hydrological Basin. The area has a
complex geological history. It is bounded to the northeast
by the Wagwater Group of conglomerates, sandstones,
shales, to the immediate north by the limestone of the
White Limestone Group, and to the west by alluvium.
The Rockfort area lies below the White Limestones of
the Long Mountain and is located on the Ligueanea allu-
vial fan. To the south of the cement factory is the Har-
bour view Community which is located on the Coastal
Group of sediments (Figure 1(b)) .The soils of Jamaica
can be classified into three broad categories namely
highland soils eg. lithosols and clays derived from wea-
thering of Cretaceous volcanics, upland plateau soils
(terra rosa) overlying the limestone and the alluvial plain
and valley soils covering most part of southern Jamaica.
The present study area thus lies in the alluvial soil types
of Jamaica.
2. Methodology
A total of seventeen top soil samples were collected from
the study area, nine around the cement factory and an-
other eight in the residential Harbour View community
(Figure 1(c)). Bulk samples of 2 kg of top soil samples
were collected within 0-10 cm depth. The soil samples
were homogenized by coning and quartering, air-dried at
100-110˚C for about 24 h and then finely powdered and
sieved to 2 mm and further sieved to 150 μm for analysis.
Mineralogical analysis of the soil samples were carried
out by X-Ray diffractometry in the Department of Che-
mistry at the University of West Indies. Elemental com-
position of the major, minor and trace elements in the
soils were studied using a combination of X-Ray Fluo-
rescence Spectrometry (XRF), Instrumental Neutron
Activation Analysis (INAA) and Atomic Absorption
Spectroscopy at the International Centre for Environ-
mental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS) at University of
West Indies and Mines and Geology Division of the
Ministry of Energy & Mining, Jamaica. Pb was analyzed
using KEVEX 770 energy dispersive X-Ray fluores-
cence (EDXRF) instrument. Al, Ca, K, Fe, Na, Zn, V and
Cr were analysed by INAA using SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear
reactor. The gamma-ray spectra were measured using
Reverse Electrode Coaxial Ge Detectors (REGe)-CAN-
BERRA interfaced to a 4096 channel Canberra Series 40
Multichannel Analyzer (MCA). Each sample was
counted after the specified decay time at a counting ge-
ometry adjusted to give less than 10% dead time to
minimize pulse pile-up. Spectrum analysis was carried
out using the ORTEC Geligam software. All samples
were irradiated in the SLOWPOKE 2 research reactor,
the irradiation and measurement conditions are shown in
the table below. A Canberra reverse electrode germa-
nium detector with an efficiency of 15% at 1332.5 keV
gamma rays and a FWHM of 2.1 keV was used for the
counting of samples. Quantification was performed using
the improved relative comparative method. Accuracy and
precision of the INAA analytical procedures were evalu-
ated by analyzing NIST-2711CRM in parallel with the
samples. The overall agreement for the element analyzed
was better than 10%. The detection limits of the elements
studied are included in Table 1.
For AAS the soil samples were weighed to 0.25 g in a
weighing dish and transferred into a teflon beaker. Two
milliliters of concentrated hydrochloric acid was care-
fully added then heated in a hot water bath at a tempera-
ture of about 90-95˚C for 30 minutes. One milliliter of
nitric acid long with 1mL of perchloric acid and 2 mL of
hydrofluoric acid were heated in the water bath until near
dryness. The samples were redissolved with 3 mL con-
centrated hydrochloric acid and 1 mL concentrated nitric
acid was heated in the water bath for 20 minutes which
was then diluted to 10 mL with aluminium chloride then
mixed and allowed to settle then the metals were meas-
ured by Perkin-Elmer FIMS-100 Flow Injection Mercury
System (FIMS) and and Flame atomic absorption (Perkin-
Elmer Analyst 300) respectively. The detection limits
were 5 g/kg for Hg and 1 mg/kg for Cd.
3. Results and Discussions
Size analysis of the soil samples show that majority of
the soils studied were in the range of 149-105 m and <
53 m and are of fine sand to silt size range. Minera-
logical analysis of the soil samples indicate presence of
quartz, calcite, albite and potash feldspar as the most
dominant minerals (Figure 2 ).
Chemical analysis of the top soils show that CaO,
Al2O3, and K2O are the major oxides followed by Fe2O3
and NaO (Table 1). This is also evident in the mineral-
ogy of the soils where calcite, quartz and feldspars are
the dominant minerals. The overall range of Ca in Ja-
maican soils is < 0.67% to 28.5% with most of the soils
< 2%. The average is 2.1% as compared with 1.4% of
world soils [13]. The alluvial soils of Jamaica are reported
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Figure 1. (a) Location map of Rockfort in Kingston, Jamaica; (b) Geological Map of Kingston-St Andrew, Jamaica; (c) Map
of the Caribbean Cement Factory showing the sample locations (L1-L17).
to have low Ca values ranging from < 0.22% to 6.1%,
with the Ligueanea plains having releatively higher val-
ues (1.1-9.5%). In the present study area Ca concentra-
tions are higher in the soils bordering the factory (L4-L6,
Table 1, Figure 1(c)) than those of the Harbour View
area which could be attributed to its probable source
from the dust emitted from the factory containing par-
ticulates of calcite, a dominant mineral of cement.
The trace element concentrations of the top soil sam-
ples show that the soils contain sufficient amounts of Pb,
Zn, Ti, V, Cd and Cr (all results in ppm) (Table 2).
These metals originating from industrial activities are
distributed in soils by the atmosphere within a distance
that depends on the size of particles. The mean concen-
tration of Zn and Pb in the soil samples are 132.03 and
31.47 ppm respectively. Zinc and lead in soils could be
derived from industrial sources as well as from abrasion
from tyres of motor vehicles [14,15]. The highest con-
centrations of Pb and Zn were found in the samples near
the gate of the plant, located at 5m from the plant (Fig-
ure 1(c)) while the lowest concentrations of Pb and Zn
(7.1 ppm and 67 ppm) were found further south in the
Harbour View community. The Pb content of Jamaican
soils have been found to enriched by a factor of 9 as
compared to the crustal average of 13 ppm in some areas
[16]. Maximum concentrations are in soils overlying the
White Limestone group of rocks. The soils of the study
area fall within the Coastal Group and are reported to
have Pb concentrations at some sites higher (75 ppm)
than the average Pb in soils of Coastal Group (35
ppm).This could be attributed to the cement industry in
which the process and production of cement industry
require a substantial amount of energy supplied by burn-
ing fossil fuel and traffic activity in the plant [17,18].The
high levels of Zn in the top soils of the study area could
be attributed to emission sources from the cement factory
as well as traffic emissions in the area of investigation.
Cadmium and Chromium also show a similar distribution
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJG
Figure 2. Representative X-Ray diffractogram of the top soil samples around the Caribbean Cement Factory, Rockfort, Ja-
pattern in the soils studied with relatively higher concen-
trations near the gate of the plant i.e. L4-L7 as opposed
to soils sampled further south. Cd concentrations in allu-
vial soils are reported to be of an average of 1.5 ppm
According to Ellis and Revitt [18] Cd may be derived
from the mechanical abrasion of vehicles and also asso-
ciated with tyre wear. The concentration of chromium in
the upper part of soil varies from 39.2-111.5 ppm with a
mean value of 57.2 ppm. The highest concentrations of
chromium are recorded in the samples near the plant and
in the eastern area of the cement industry. In the cement
industry the linings for the rotaries contain chromium,
which could be liberated by wear and friction to be the
source of chromium in the soil samples [17]. The Ti and
V values fall within the range for Jamaican soils. In Ja-
maica Ti concentration > 0.6% have been reported from
the bauxitic soils in the central and western Vanadium in
the soils around cement factories can be attributed to the
V in coal as coal is used during combustion processes in
the cement factories.
Mutual correlations between the elements done at 95%
significance level shows positive correlation between Pb
and Zn (R2 = 0.53) suggesting a possible common origin
for them (Table 3). V and Ti show a very high positive
correlation (0.91) between as compared to the other
heavy metals. Hence it can be accounted for their similar
source, probably coal as coal contains Ti and V in its
trace element composition. Coal combustion releases
these trace elements which can get incorportated in the
dust along with the cement particulates and gets depos-
ited on the top soil of the surrounding area.
Cr also shows good positive correlation with Zn (R2 =
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJG
0.57) confirming further their common source (Table 3).
The present study shows that the metal concentrations
of top soils can be used as a powerful geochemical tool
for monitoring the impact of anthropogenic activity. Soil
samples show higher concentrations of Ca as compared
to the other major elements indicating the presence of
calcareous soil in the area. Excess of Ca in the soils near
the factory as opposed to the average levels of Ca in oth-
erwise alluvial soils account for incorporation of cement
particulates in the dust. Mutual correlation of the heavy
metals in the soils suggests a common origin for Pb, Zn
and Cr.
The distribution of the metal concentration of the soil
in the study area indicated that this area has been af-
fected by anthropogenic activity, in particular the cement
Table 1. Major elements (wt%) in the top soil samples from
the study area.
ID Al% Ca% K% Fe% Na%
L1 3.8 18.8 2.1 0.8 0.9
L2 7.0 6.7 4.1 1.3 1.6
L3 6.1 9.2 3.4 1.3 1.1
L4 4.5 14.7 2.6 1.3 1.3
L5 5.3 12.3 3.7 1.2 1.7
L6 4.5 12.5 2.2 1.1 1.5
L7 6.2 6.6 3.5 1.5 1.7
L8 6.4 7.1 3.5 1.9 1.9
L9 5.9 8.8 3.1 1.5 2.2
L10 7.9 2.4 1.7 3.7 2.7
L11 5.6 10.3 1.9 4.2 2.0
L12 7.8 3.7 3.1 7.8 1.4
L13 6.9 8.0 1.8 4.4 0.9
L14 7.1 4.5 2.2 4.3 0.7
L15 4.6 15.5 2.8 2.9 2.4
L16 7.9 3.0 2.4 3.2 1.1
L17 7.5 6.1 2.2 4.1 1.6
Detection Limits 0.022% 0.184%1050 ppm 0.02 ppm18 ppm
Max 7.9 18.8 4.1 7.8 2.7
Min 3.8 2.4 1.7 0.8 0.7
Mean 6.2 8.8 2.7 2.7 1.6
Std Dev 1.31 4.67 0.74 1.86 0.54
Table 2. Mean, standard deviation and ranges for the metal
concentration (ppm) for the soil samples collected from the
study area along with their respective detection limits.
ID Ti CdCr Pb Zn V
L1 2838.06.1840.5 21.5 78.587.4
L2 4497.27.4450.9 16.0 103.8136.4
L3 4727.76.4844.3 18.3 95.0125.0
L4 4618.35.4278.2 44.0 259.8118.7
L5 3353.54.33111.5 28.3 165.7120.9
L6 3029.25.0648.3 61.9 146.192.0
L7 4434.37.8454.4 57.0 249.8125.0
L8 4303.33.4639.3 42.0 139.0153.9
L9 4650.62.5182.1 27.4 152.4102.1
L10 4851.85.756.9 18.7 115.5137.3
L11 7045.17.146.4 50.9 156.3192.1
L12 11362.06.151.6 75.6 103.5368.6
L13 5613.74.572.4 33.0 130.0169.0
L14 6376.53.451.4 7.1 125.0149.1
L15 5288.05.2 52.7 10.0 74.7151.5
L16 5383.73.945.3 7.6 67.5133.0
L17 7445.24.5 46.3 15.7 82.0150.0
Detection Limits1144 5.42.1 10 40.811.1
Max 11362.007.84111.54 75.64 259.78368.63
Min 2838.002.5139.28 7.10 67.4887.37
Mean 147.775.2457.21 31.47 132.03138.54
Std Dev 62.831.50 18.72 20.55 55.18 39.68
Table 3. Correlation matrix between the metals in the soils
from the study area.
Ti Cd Cr Pb Zn V
Ti 1
Cd 0.06 1.00
Cr –0.330.03 1.00
Pb 0.29 0.31 0.29 1.00
Zn –0.210.17 0.57 0.53 1.00
V 0.91 0.16 –0.20 0.47 –0.161
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJG
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industry, leading to a high accumulation of heavy metals
in the soils located near the factory as compared with the
soils further to the south east of the factory. The distribu-
tion of the metal concentration of the soil in study area
indicated that the cement industry together with the traf-
fic emissions were mainly responsible for metal pollution
in this area. Further study is needed not only to assess the
distribution of metals in soil but also to examine varia-
tion on small scale. More intensive sampling is necessary
to show any change or increase of metals in the investi-
gated area over time.
4. Acknowledgements
The authors greatly acknowledge the assistance offered
by the International Center for Nuclear Science, UWI,
Mona, Chemistry Department at UWI Mona, Mona
Geoinformatix Ltd, Mines and Geology Division, Minis-
try of Energy, Mining & Telecommunication, in sample
analysis and production of population density map of
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