Source patterns and contamination level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban and rural areas of Southern Italian soils

Thiombane, M., Albanese, S., Di Bonito, M. ORCID: 0000-0001-8590-0267, Lima, A., Zuzolo, D., Rolandi, R., Qi, S. and De Vivo, B., 2018. Source patterns and contamination level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban and rural areas of Southern Italian soils. Environmental Geochemistry and Health. ISSN 0269-4042

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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). They have been identified as a type of carcinogenic substance and are relatively widespread in environment media such as air, water and soils, constituting a significant hazard for human health. In many parts of the world, PAHs are still found in high concentrations despite improved legislation and monitoring, and it is therefore vital defining their profiles, and assessing their potential sources. This study focused on a large region of the South of Italy, where concentration levels, profiles, possible sources and toxicity equivalent quantity (TEQ) level of sixteen PAHs were investigated. The survey included soils from five large regions of the south of Italy: 80 soil samples (0–20 cm top layer) from urban and rural locations were collected and analysed by Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Total PAHs and individual molecular compounds from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) priority pollutants list were identified and measured.

Results showed that 16PAHs varied significantly in urban and rural areas, and different regions presented discordant characteristics. Urban areas presented concentrations ranging from 7.62 to 755 ng/g (mean = 84.85 ng/g), whilst rural areas presented ranges from 1.87 to 11, 353 ng/g (mean = 333 ng/g). Large urban areas, such as Rome, Naples and Palermo, exhibited high PAHs total concentration, but high values were also found in rural areas of Campania region. Different PAHs molecular ratios were used as diagnostic fingerprinting for source identification: L WMPAHs/HWMPAHs, Fluo/(Fluo +Pyr), BaA/(BaA +Chr), Ant/(Ant +Phe), and IcdP/(IcdP +BghiP). These ratios indicated that PAHs sources in the study area were mainly of pyrogenic origin, i.e. mostly related to biomass combustion and vehicular emission. On the other hand, values in Sicilian soils seemed to indicate a petrogenic origin, possibly linked to emissions from crude oil combustion and refineries present in the region. Finally, results allowed to calculate the Toxicity equivalent Quantity (TEQ BAP) levels for the various locations sampled, highlighting that the highest values were found in the Campania region, with 661 ng g-1 and 54.20 ng g-1, in rural and urban areas, respectively. These findings, which could be linked to the presence of a large solid waste incinerator plant, but also to well-documented illegal waste disposal and burning, suggest that exposure to PAH may be posing an increased risk to human health in some of the studied areas.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Environmental Geochemistry and Health
Creators: Thiombane, M., Albanese, S., Di Bonito, M., Lima, A., Zuzolo, D., Rolandi, R., Qi, S. and De Vivo, B.
Publisher: Springer
Date: 6 July 2018
ISSN: 0269-4042
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 29 Jun 2018 10:42
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2019 03:00

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