Annual and seasonal variability of metals and metalloids in urban and industrial soils in Alcalá de Henares (Spain)

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Abstract

Contamination of urban and industrial soils with trace metals has been recognized as a major concern at local, regional and global levels due to their implication on human health. In this study, concentrations of aluminum (Al), arsenic (As), beryllium (Be), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), tin (Sn), thallium (Tl), vanadium (V) and zinc (Zn) were determined in soil samples collected in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid, Spain) in order to evaluate the annual and seasonal variation in their levels. The results show that the soils of the industrial area have higher metals concentrations than the urban area. Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that the two principal sources of trace metal contamination, especially Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn in the urban soils of Alcalá can be attributed to traffic emissions, while As, Ni and Be primarily originated from industrial discharges. The seasonal variation analysis has revealed that the emission sources in the industrial area remain constant with time. However, in urban areas, both emissions and emission pathways significantly increase over time due to ongoing development. Currently, there is no hypothesis that explains the small seasonal fluctuations of trace metals in soils, since there are many factors affecting this. Owing to the fact that urban environments are becoming the human habitat, it would therefore be advisable to monitor metals and metalloids in urban soils because of the potential risks to human health.

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