Laboratory analysis of trace metals using inductively coupled plasma (ICP) spectroscopy is not cost effective, and the complex spatial distribution of soil trace metals makes their spatial analysis and prediction problematic. Thus, for the health risk assessment of exposure to trace metals in soils, portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) spectroscopy was used to replace ICP spectroscopy for metal analysis, and robust geostatistical methods were used to identify spatial outliers in trace metal concentrations and to map trace metal distributions. A case study was carried out around an industrial area in Nanjing, China. The results showed that PXRF spectroscopy provided results for trace metal (Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn) levels comparable to ICP spectroscopy. The results of the health risk assessment showed that Ni posed a higher non-carcinogenic risk than Cu, Pb and Zn, indicating a higher priority of concern than the other elements. Sampling locations associated with adverse health effects were identified as ‘hotspots’, and high-risk areas were delineated from risk maps. These ‘hotspots’ and high-risk areas were in close proximity to and downwind from petrochemical plants, indicating the dominant role of industrial activities as the major sources of trace metals in soils. The approach used in this study could be adopted as a cost-effective methodology for screening ‘hotspots’ and priority areas of concern for cost-efficient health risk management.
Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety – Elsevier
Published: May 30, 2018
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