John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Factors affecting spatial variation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in surface soils in North China Plain

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The spatial variation in concentrations of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in surface soils in the North China Plain and the influential factors were examined in the present study. High concentrations of the sum of 16 PAHs (∑PAH16) appeared in cities and their surrounding areas. Emissions and soil organic carbon (SOC) content significantly regulated spatial differentiation of PAH contamination in soils in the study area. Compared with emissions, concentrations of individual and total PAHs in soils were more closely controlled by the SOC content. Furthermore, concentrations of PAH species with lower molecular weight (e.g., two‐ or three‐ring) in surface soils were more strongly correlated with the SOC content in comparison with those of higher molecular weight (e.g., five‐ or six‐ring), mainly because of their higher saturated vapor pressure, thus higher mobility. The spatial variation of PAH species in soils in the North China Plain tended to be larger with increasing benzene ring numbers, and the difference in physicochemical properties of PAH species determined their distinct spatial distribution characteristics. The present study highlights the relative importance of emissions and SOC content in spatial variation of PAHs and the dependence of the spatial distribution characteristics of PAH species in surface soils on their physicochemical properties at a regional scale. Results of the present work are helpful for regional risk assessment of the contaminants tested. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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