Characterising variation of heavy metal pollution in urban soils

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Resource or Project Abstract

Urban soils are recipients of various pollutants, including metals, which can be accumulated over large timescales. The origins of urban soils are mixed and frequently unknown. As a result a strong spatial heterogeneity of metals tends to exist in soils of urban areas, making the hazard assessment of metal pollution a challenging task.
In order to better understand the spatial variation of metals in urban soils, samples were collected from four urban parks: a roadside sports ground, a traditional bonfire site, a historical landfilling site and a city park in both Galway and Dublin City. Soil geochemical variables were determined using different chemical techniques (e.g. Portable X-ray fluorescence and, Inductively Coupled Plasma?Emission Spectroscopy). The results were analyzed using conventional statistics, geostatistics and a geographic information system (GIS). Like most European countries, there are many public sports grounds and parks in Ireland; however few previous studies concerning metal contamination have been carried out in these public amenities.
Strong variations in soil geochemistry were observed at all four parks. Furthermore, some elements showed multi-modal features, indicating the existence of mixed populations which proved difficult to separate. Based on the spatial distribution maps, it was found that areas with elevated concentrations of metals were close to potential pollution sources, e.g. relatively high levels of pollution were found along the roadside in both Newcastle sports ground and the Phoenix Park. Elevated concentrations of Zn, Cu and Pb in the soil were closely associated with the emissions related to bonfires which take place annually at Halloween. The hazard assessment maps clearly showed that a significant portion of South Park sports ground contained total metal concentrations greatly higher than levels known to cause environmental problems. However, the implementation of hazard assessment of metal contamination in soils requires the determination of both total (TCs) and bioavailable concentrations (BCs). Therefore, the potential BCs of metals were determined in soils of South Park using Ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetic acid (EDTA) extractants followed by ICP-OES analysis. The hazard assessment maps still indicated that a considerable portion of the study area contained elevated BCs, indicating metal contamination. Overall, in comparison with South Park, the other sites in this study are not severely contaminated. Based on the hazard assessment maps for Rahoon bonfire site, it is recommended that local communities should be advised to refrain from the burning of tyres and other hazardous metal-containing wastes in bonfires, which result in the contamination of the surrounding soil.
The study provides the total and bioavailable metal concentrations in urban soils in Ireland, which not only indicated their current contaminative status, but also can be used for comparative purposes in future pollution assessment studies. These results are particularly useful for policy development and management practices in public spaces and sports grounds in urban areas.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Chaosheng Zhang
National University of Ireland, Galway

Dr. Ligang Dao
National University of Ireland Galway

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Att 1    South_Park_raw_data.xlsx   (0.04 Mb)
Att 2   (0.02 Mb)
Att 3    Rahoon_bonfire_raw_data.xlsx   (0.03 Mb)
Att 4   (0.01 Mb)
Att 5    Phoenix_Park_raw_data.xlsx   (0.02 Mb)
Att 6   (0.01 Mb)
Att 7    Matadata_for_Soil_Files.docx   (0.05 Mb)
Att 8    Newcastle_sports_ground_raw_data.xlsx   (0.14 Mb)
Att 9   (0.05 Mb)

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Author(s)Zhang, C. Dao, L.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationCharacterising variation of heavy metal pollution in urban soils
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL
Unique Identifieraf72d766-6bec-102f-8c70-b53a025bc1b8
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2024-06-24

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Zhang, C. Dao, L.   "Characterising variation of heavy metal pollution in urban soils". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland (Last Accessed: 2024-06-24)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL
Resource KeywordsSpatial variation; metals; urban soils; GIS; spatial interpolation
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2007-PhD-S-3
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeLand-use, Soils, and Transport
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceAny attached datasets, data files, or information objects can be downloaded for further use in scientific applications under the condition that the source is properly quoted and cited in published papers, journals, websites, presentations, books, etc. Before downloading, users must agree to the "Conditions of Download and Access" from SAFER-Data. These appear before download. Users of the data should also communicate with the original authors/owners of this resource if they are uncertain about any aspect of the data or information provided before further usage.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 9
Project Start Date Tuesday 1st January 2008 (01-01-2008)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Thursday 1st May 2008 (01-05-2008)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Friday 1st January 2010 (01-01-2010)
Published on SAFERTuesday 29th November 2011 (29-11-2011)
Date of Last EditTuesday 29th November 2011 at 16:33:33 (29-11-2011)
Datasets or Files Updated On Tuesday 29th November 2011 at 16:33:33 (29-11-2011)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
1. Newcastle sports ground, Northwest of the Galway city centre. It is located along a T-junction of N59 and McKenna Road, Galway, Ireland. Coordinates of four corners of sampling site SW (128329, 226221); NW (128272, 226381); NE (128451, 226456); SE (128512, 226304). 2. Rahoon bonfire site: located in a residential area west of the city centre, Galway, Ireland. Coordinates of four corners of sampling site SW (127704, 225431); NW (127690, 225463); NE (127754, 225496); SE (127776, 225456). 3. South Park sports ground, Galway: The sports ground is located in the Claddagh, close to Galway City centre. It is adjacent to Galway Bay, and the River Corrib is located north of the site.Coordinates of four corners of sampling site: SW (129560, 224321); NW (129656, 224853); NE (129945, 224575); SE (129766, 224269). 4. Phoenix Park site, Dublin: The Park is located in the west of the city centre, Dublin, Ireland.Coordinates of four corners of sampling site SW (310753, 236107); NW (310793, 236163); NE (310851, 236123); SE (310810, 236067).

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
EC (European Commission), 2006a. Communication from the commission to the council, the European Parliament, the European economic and social committee and the committee of the regions: Thematic Strategy for soil protection. Brussels, 22. 9. 2006 (COM (2006)231 final). Available online at:
EC (European Commission), 2006b. Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council: establishing a framework for the protection of soil and amending Directive 2004/35/EC. Brussels, 22. 9. 2006 (COM (2006) 232 final). Available online at:
Supplementary Information
1 PhD dissertation; 4 peer-reviewed papers expected (1 published, 1 revised, 1 submitted, 1 under prepartion); International collaboration with China. PhD Dissertation: Ligang Dao (2011) Spatial variation of metals in the top soils of four Irish urban parks. National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.

Geographic Information System (GIS) and geostatistical method were used to characterize the spatial variation of metals in four urban parks: a roadside sports ground, a traditional bonfire site, a historical landfilling site and a city park in both Galway and Dublin City. The software was ArcGIS ver. 10.
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