Keywords: Jordanian border, heavy metals, Jordan, motorways, highways, heavy metal contamination, soil pollution, roadside soils
Heavy metal pollution of soils along North Shuna-Aqaba Highway, Jordan
Attention to heavy metal contamination associated with highways or motorways has risen in the last decades because of the associated health hazards and risks. The present study analysed the metal content in soil samples of one of the main highways along the western part of the Jordanian border, the North Shuna–Dead Sea–Aqaba Highway. The metals analysed were Pb, Zn, Cd, Co and Ni. In the samples collected, the recorded average concentrations were as follows: 40 ppm for Ni, 5 ppm for Cd, 79 ppm for Zn, 79 ppm for Pb, and 25 ppm for Co. The average concentrations of Cd, Pb, and Co are higher than the average natural background values of heavy metals. The geo-accumulation index of these metals in the soils under study indicated that they are uncontaminated with Ni, Zn, and Co and moderately contaminated with Cd and Pb. In all of the investigated locations, the study found that concentrations decreased with depth. The cluster statistical analyses and pollution load index were used to relate pollution to land use or highway conditions. Two main trends were identified: (i) higher concentrations were located near intersections close to the urban areas in the Jordan Valley, in association with junctions controlled by traffic lights and check points; and (ii) lower concentrations were found to the southwest in areas of mainly barren landscape close to the Dead Sea and Aqaba.