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Contamination characteristics and source apportionment of heavy metals in topsoil from an area in Xi’an city, China

Chen, Xiuduan, Lu, Xinwei
Ecotoxicology and environmental safety 2018 v.151 pp. 153-160
arsenic, barium, cobalt, copper, heavy metals, industry, lead, manganese, nickel, pollution load, risk, soil pollution, topsoil, traffic, urban development, vanadium, zinc, China
As soil-extractable elements potentially pose ecological and health risks, identifying their contamination characteristics and sources is crucial. Therefore, to understand topsoil trace elements in the urban ring zone from the Second Ring Road to the Third Ring of Xi’an city in China, we determined the concentrations of Zn, Co, V, As, Cu, Mn, Ba, Ni and Pb, and analyzed the sources of the contamination. The results showed that the individual pollution indices of Pb, Co, Cu, Zn, Ba, Ni, Mn, As, and V were 1.79, 1.48, 1.41, 1.33, 1.20, 1.07, 1.04, 0.99, and 0.99, respectively. Evaluation with the aid of the pollution load index (PLI) indicated slight soil contamination by these elements in the study area. Using the positive matrix factorization (PMF) method, we identified four sources of contamination, namely (1) a natural source, (2) traffic emission source, (3) industrial emission source, and (4) mixed source. PMF is an effective tool for source apportionment of heavy metals in topsoil. The contribution rates of the natural source, traffic source, mixed source, and industrial source to the heavy metal contamination were specified as 25.04%, 24.71%, 24.99%, and 25.26%, respectively. Considering the above, any attempt to reduce the soil environmental cost of urban development, has to take into account the heavy metal contamination of the topsoil from industries, traffic, and other activities.