Baseline values for heavy metals in agricultural soils in an European Mediterranean region.Sci Total Environ. 2007 May 25; 378(1-2):13-7.ST
Baseline values for heavy metals were proposed in Alicante (Spain), a representative agricultural area of the European Mediterranean region, as a basis to identify and assess soil contamination processes at regional level. Fifty-four agricultural plots were sampled and heavy metals concentrations were analysed for nine elements (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn) by atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) after acid digestion with HNO(3) and HCl in a microwave oven. Heavy metal concentrations obtained in the study area were similar to concentrations analysed by other authors within the European Mediterranean region. However, some agricultural plots with a high heavy metal content were identified by statistical treatment (boxplots) as outliers and, therefore, were not considered for establishing baseline values. Baseline values in Alicante were proposed by taking into account the statistical approach extensively used elsewhere, which refers to the increase in the mean plus twice the standard deviation. The baseline values were: 0.7 mg/kg for Cd, 11 mg/kg for Co, 36 mg/kg for Cr, 28 mg/kg for Cu, 19,822 mg/kg for Fe, 402 mg/kg for Mn, 31 mg/kg for Ni, 28 mg/kg for Pb and 83 mg/kg for Zn. The experience gained in this work further suggests that baseline values for heavy metals should be proposed in other areas. This is necessary to facilitate the identification of soil contamination processes over the whole European Mediterranean region as a basis to undertaking appropriate action to protect soil resource quality.