Distribution and Health Risk Assessment of Trace Metals in Soils in the Golden Triangle of Southern Fujian Province, China.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 12 31; 16(1)IJ
In recent years, intensified industrialization and rapid urbanization have accelerated the accumulation of trace metals in topsoils of the Golden Triangle of Southern Fujian Province in China. Trace metals can cause adverse impacts on ecosystems and human health. In order to assess the ecological and human health risks of trace metals in the Golden Triangle region and to determine the distribution and degree of pollution of trace metals, 456 soil samples were collected from 28 districts. The concentrations of six metals (As, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn) were analyzed to assess ecological risk using the geoaccumulation index (Igeo) and the potential ecological risk index (RI). The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) model was applied to calculate health risk. The average soil concentrations of the six elements are ranked as follows: As < Ni < Cu < Cr < Pb < Zn. Inverse distance weighting (IDW) interpolation maps showed that Cr, Cu, Ni, and Zn are enriched in the soils of developed areas, while As and Pb are enriched in the soils of undeveloped areas. The Igeo showed that the levels of metals in most soil samples are below polluting levels. Similarly, RI values indicated that trace metals pose low potential ecological risk in the region's soils. The Hazard Quotient (HQ) ranked the mean total noncarcinogenic risk of the six metals, for both children and adults, as follows: As > Pb > Cr > Ni > Cu >Zn. The mean carcinogenic risk (CR) of the metals in the region's soils are ranked as follows: Cr > As > Ni. The Hazard Index (HI) values indicated that 3.7% of soils contained unsafe levels of toxic metals for children and total carcinogenic risk (TCR) values indicated that 23.3% of soils contained unsafe levels, indicating that children are facing both noncarcinogenic and carcinogenic risks from trace metals. Principal component analysis (PCA) and matrix cluster analysis were used to identify pollution sources and classified trace metals and soil samples into two and five groups, respectively. The five groups represented the effects of different land use types, including agricultural area, residential and public area, industrial area, forest, and industrial area and roadside, based on the contents of trace metals in soils. Industrial, agricultural and traffic activities attribute to the enrichment of Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn in the region's soils. Moreover, the accumulation of As and Pb are also attributed to atmospheric deposition. These results can contribute to a better understanding of pollution, ecological risks, and human health risks from trace metals on large regional scales like the Golden Triangle of Southern Fujian Province.