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Traffic-related distribution of antimony in roadside soils

Földi, Corinna, Sauermann, Simon, Dohrmann, Reiner, Mansfeldt, Tim
Environmental pollution 2018 v.237 pp. 704-712
European Union, antimony, asbestos, bioavailability, ecotoxicology, emissions, fractionation, groundwater, iron, iron oxides, oxides, pollution, roadside soils, soil depth, toxicity, urban soils, Germany
Vehicular emissions have become one of the main source of pollution of urban soils; this highlights the need for more detailed research on various traffic-related emissions and related distribution patterns. Since the banning of asbestos in the European Union, its substitution with antimony (Sb) in brake linings has led to increased inputs of this toxic metalloid to environmental compartments. The objective of this study was to provide detailed information about the spatial distribution patterns of Sb and to assess its mobility and bioavailability. Roadside soils along an arterial road (approx. 9000 vehicles per day) in Cologne (Germany) were studied along five transects, at four soil depths and at seven sampling points set at varying distances from the road (n = 140). For all samples, comprehensive soil characterization was performed and inverse aqua regia-extractable trace metal content was determined being pseudo-total contents. Furthermore, for one transect, also total Sb and a chemical sequential extraction procedure was applied (n = 28). Pseudo-total Sb for all transects decreased significantly with soil depth and distance from the road, reflecting a distribution pattern similar to that of other trace metals associated with brake lining emissions. Conversely, metals associated with exhaust emissions showed a convex distribution. The geochemical fractionation of Sb revealed the following trends: i) non-specifically sorbed Sb was <5%; ii) specifically sorbed Sb was only detected within 1 m distance from the road and decreased with depth; iii) Sb associated with poorly-crystalline Fe oxides decreased with distance from the road; and iv) content of Sb bounded to well-crystalline Fe oxides, and Sb present in the residual fraction remained relatively constant at each depth. Consequently, roadside soils appear to inhibit brake lining-related Sb contamination, with significant but rather low ecotoxicological potential for input into surface and groundwater.