Evidence for environmental contamination in residential neighborhoods surrounding the defense depot of Memphis, Tennessee

Natasha A. Greene, Jason D. White, Vernon R. Morris, Stephanie Roberts, Kimberly L. Jones, Cynthia Warrick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


An interdisciplinary environmental assessment team from the Howard University Environmental Justice Partnership (HUEJP) conducted a site visit and assessment of the Defense Depot of Memphis, Tennessee in February of 2000. This depot was built in the late 1940's for storage of numerous chemicals and munitions. As the years progressed, many Memphis citizens have grown to believe that the activities and chemical stockpile located at this site have negatively affected the health environment of their residents. There is anecdotal evidence and documentation of numerous cancers and other illnesses in those local territories, and specifically, at the Memphis Depot site. Currently, this depot is closed and in remediation by the local government. Particularly, citizens of the Rozelle community have started a campaign to investigate any signs of exposure pathways to noted health risks. The HUEJP was contacted and asked to investigate the community concerns. Obliging to the request, we aimed to sample at three drainage sites and a residential site, talk to local citizens, and gain any additional information that would be helpful in relieving anxiety in the Rozelle community. Soil, sediment, and water samples were collected and analyzed for total organic carbon, inorganic anions, and heavy metals. These data show that for the four sites sampled, the highest concentrations of organic compounds and heavy metals were located either within a residential area or in an area with a direct transport pathway to the community. Atomic absorption analysis revealed detectable amounts of cadmium, lead and chromium metals at all sites with direct transport pathways into the residential community, with chromium concentrations being far in excess of the EPA standard limits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-251
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Disease prevention
  • Environmental justice
  • Heavy metals
  • Memphis, TN
  • U.S. Army Defense Depot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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