Metals are indicators of contamination by anthropic activities, such as road traffic. To assess the extent of the metal contamination, more comprehensive studies analyzing different environmental matrices, such as soils, dust, and plants, collected in different sites that are potential sources of these pollutants along the highways, must be prioritized. Samples of soils, dust, and plants were collected alongside the highways of Brazil at 20 sites selected in strategic locations of metal accumulation (Cr, Pb, Zn, As, and Sb) or different situations of the high ways during two rain conditions (wet and dry weeks of sampling): nearby gutters and water supplies, tolls, petrol stations, a federal road police station, and areas associated with agriculture (yearly culture planting upstream of the highway). The geoaccumulation index (metal concentration in the sample of interest/background) varied from 0 to 6, and the decreasing order of contamination by metals during the wet and dry periods were, respectively: Zn > As > Pb = Sb > Cr and Zn > As > Pb > Cr > Sb. In the soils near the highways, the highest concentrations of metals were as follows (mg kg−1): As = 15.6, Cr = 81.9, Pb = 39.7, Sb = 5.0, and Zn = 379.3. The highest amounts of these elements in the most superficial layer in soils indicated their addition through atmospheric emissions. The most prominent metal was Sb, whose concentration was greater than the quality limits for soils. The concentration of Sb in soils was higher in the wet week than in the dry week. The emissions from road traffic promoted the increase in metals in the dust on the track, especially Zn and Pb. The highest metal concentrations in grasses (Brachiaria) were found in the roots, except for Sb and Zn, which suggests leaf absorption of atmospheric deposition. Metal contamination was widespread in all studied matrices along the highways.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 13, 2017
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