Assessment of bioaccessibility and exposure risk of arsenic and lead in urban soils of Guangzhou City, China.Environ Geochem Health. 2011 Apr; 33(2):93-102.EG
Soil ingestion is an important human exposure pathway of heavy metals in urban environments with heavy metal contaminated soils. This study aims to assess potential health risks of heavy metals in soils sampled from an urban environment where high frequency of human exposure may be present. A bioaccessibility test is used, which is an in vitro gastrointestinal (IVG) test of soluble metals under simulated physiological conditions of the human digestion system. Soil samples for assessing the oral bioaccessibility of arsenic (As) and lead (Pb) were collected from a diverse range of different land uses, including urban parks, roadsides, industrial sites and residential areas in Guangzhou City, China. The soil samples contained a wide range of total As (10.2 to 61.0 mg kg(-1)) and Pb (38.4 to 348 mg kg(-1)) concentrations. The bioaccessibility of As and Pb in the soil samples were 11.3 and 39.1% in the stomach phase, and 1.9 and 6.9% in the intestinal phase, respectively. The As and Pb bioaccessibility in the small intestinal phase was significantly lower than those in the gastric phase. Arsenic bioaccessibility was closely influenced by soil pH and organic matter content (r (2) = 0.451, p < 0.01) in the stomach phase, and by organic matter, silt and total As contents (r (2) = 0.604, p < 0.001) in the intestinal phase. The general risk of As and Pb intake for children from incidental ingestion of soils is low, compared to their maximum doses, without causing negative human health effects. The exposure risk of Pb in the soils ranked in the order of: industrial area/urban parks > residential area/road side. Although the risk of heavy metal exposure from direct ingestion of urban soils is relatively low, the risk of inhalation of fine soil particulates in the air remains to be evaluated.