Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soils of an industrial area in semi-arid Uzbekistan: spatial distribution, relationship with trace metals and risk assessment

Benjamin A.Musa Bandowe, Nosir Shukurov, Sophia Leimer, Michael Kersten, Yosef Steinberger, Wolfgang Wilcke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

The concentrations, composition patterns, transport and fate of PAHs in semi-arid and arid soils such as in Central Asia are not well known. Such knowledge is required to manage the risk posed by these toxic chemicals to humans and ecosystems in these regions. To fill this knowledge gap, we determined the concentrations of 21 parent PAHs, 4,5-methylenephenanthrene, 6 alkylated PAHs, and biphenyl in soils from 11 sampling locations (0–10, 10–20 cm soil depths) along a 20-km transect downwind from the Almalyk metal mining and metallurgical industrial complex (Almalyk MMC), Uzbekistan. The concentrations of Σ29 PAHs and Σ16 US-EPA PAHs were 41–2670 ng g−1 and 29–1940 ng g−1, respectively. The highest concentration of Σ29 PAHs occurred in the immediate vicinity of the copper smelting factory of the Almalyk MMC. The concentrations in topsoil decreased substantially to a value of ≤ 200 ng g−1 (considered as background concentration) at ≥ 2 km away from the factory. Low molecular weight PAHs dominated the PAH mixtures at less contaminated sites and high molecular weight PAHs at the most contaminated site. The concentration of Σ16 US-EPA PAHs did not exceed the precautionary values set by the soil quality guidelines of, e.g., Switzerland and Germany. Similarly, the benzo[a]pyrene equivalent concentration in soils near the Almalyk MMC did not exceed the value set by the Canadian guidelines for the protection of humans from carcinogenic PAHs in soils. Consequently, the cancer risk due to exposure to PAHs in these soils can be considered as low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4847-4861
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Volume43
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Central Asia
  • Metal mining
  • Pollution transect
  • Smelting area
  • Soil health

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