Spatial and temporal variations of trace element distribution in soils and street dust of an industrial town in NW Spain: 15years of study

A. Ordóñez, R. Álvarez, E. De Miguel, Sue M. Charlesworth

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Extensive spatial and temporal surveys, over 15years, have been conducted in soil in urban parks and street dusts in one of the most polluted cities in western Europe, Avilés (NW Spain). The first survey was carried out in 1996, and since then monitoring has been undertaken every five years. Whilst the sampling site is a relatively small town, industrial activities (mainly the steel industry and Zn and Al metallurgy) and other less significant urban sources, such as traffic, strongly affect the load of heavy metals in the urban aerosol. Elemental tracers have been used to characterise the influence of these sources on the composition of soil and dust. Although PM10 has decreased over these years as a result of environmental measures undertaken in the city, some of the "industrial" elements still remain in concentrations of concern for example, up to 4.6% and 0.5% of Zn in dust and soil, respectively. Spatial trends in metals such as Zn and Cd clearly reflect sources from the processing industries. The concentrations of these elements across Europe have reduced over time, however the most recent results from Avilés revealed an upward trend in concentration for Zn, Cd, Hg and As. A risk assessment of the soil highlighted As as an element of concern since its cancer risk in adults was more than double the value above which regulatory agencies deem it to be unacceptable. If children were considered to be the receptors, then the risk nearly doubles from this element.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93–103
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Science of The Total Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Science of The Total Environment [vol 524-526, 2015] DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.04.024 © 2015, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • metals
  • risk assessment
  • street dust
  • urban geochemistry
  • urban soil

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