Transversal immission patterns and leachability of heavy metals in road side soils

David S T Hjortenkrans, Bo G Bergbäck, Agneta V Häggerud
Journal of Environmental Monitoring: JEM 2008, 10 (6): 739-46
Today there is consensus concerning the road traffic's role as a metal source. However, there are so far only a few studies which focus on the road side immission patterns regarding distance from roads, and especially in combination with the leachability of heavy metals down the soil profile. In this study, the aim was to analyse concentrations of traffic related metals in road side soils, at different depths and distances from roads, both to analyse the immission patterns as well as to explain the importance of the road construction design of the road side terrain. The BCR sequential extraction procedure was performed to be able to address the environmental risk in terms of metal mobility. Approximately 80 soil samples were analysed for seven metals; antimony (Sb), cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), chromium (Cr), lead (Pb), nickel (Ni) and zinc (Zn). The results showed that, depending on metal, the total metal concentrations in road side soils have increased 3-16 times compared to regional background during the last decades. Each metal had a limited dispersal distance from the roads as well as down in the soil profile and the road construction significantly affected the metal immission distance. Elevated metal concentrations were mostly found for top soils and down to 10 cm in the soil profiles. The labile fractions counted for more than 40% of the total concentrations for Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn, indicating a potential mobilization of the metals if the road side soils become disturbed. The present soil metal concentration levels are not alarming, but metals with a high accumulation rate might gradually be an upcoming problem if nothing is done to their emission sources.

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