Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Environmental modelling of soil quality, heavy-metal enrichment and human health risk in sub-urbanized semiarid watershed of western India


Natural chemical structure of soil is triggered due to tremendous emissions from industrial, mining, domestic effluents, overuse of agricultural pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Hence, the chemical analysis of this resource is necessary to understand the chemical changes and the concentration of heavy metals. In this regard, 25 representative soil samples in Shivganga watershed were collected from the surface to 15 cm depth for the detection of heavy metals viz., cadmium, copper, lead, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum, nickel, chromium and arsenic. These soil samples were also examined for physio-chemical parameters and further subjected to X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. The analysed elements were normalised using upper continental crust and standard basalt values. The pollution index (PI) was calculated to identify the enrichment of heavy metals in study area soils. The PI value ranges from 0.44 to 9.55 wherein the highest contribution is from cadmium, up to considerable level from copper and molybdenum and moderate contamination by zinc, arsenic and lead. The study revealed that there is a considerable concentration of heavy metals mainly due to the anthropogenic sources viz. the chemical fertilizers that are used in agricultural practices and the transportation in main roads (highways) with high traffic density. Considering the higher concentrations of heavy metals in the study region, health risk assessment model was generated for adults and children. It is observed that the hazard quotient and hazard index values for these heavy metals are well within acceptable range for adults as compared to children showing low health risk by ingestion of heavy metals.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. Abrahams PW (2002) Soils: their implications to human health. Sci Total Environ 291(1–3):1–32

  2. Aelion CM, Davis HT, McDermott S, Lawson AB (2009) Soil metal concentrations and toxicity: associations with distances to industrial facilities and implications for human health. Sci Total Environ 407(7):2216–2223

  3. Ahad T, Kanth TA, Nabi S (2015) Soil bulk density as related to texture, organic matter content and porosity in kandi soils of district Kupwara (Kashmir Valley), India. Geography 4(1):198–200

  4. Birch G, Taylor S (1999) Source of heavy metals in sediments of the Port Jackson estuary, Australia. Sci Total Environ 227(2–3):123–138

  5. Cannon WF, Horton JD (2009) Soil geochemical signature of urbanization and industrialization–Chicago, Illinois, USA. Appl Geochem 24(8):1590–1601

  6. Chabukdhara M, Nema AK (2013) Heavy metals assessment in urban soil around industrial clusters in Ghaziabad, India: probabilistic health risk approach. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 87:57–64

  7. Davydova S (2005) Heavy metals as toxicants in big cities. Microchem J 79(1–2):133–136

  8. De Kimpe CR, Morel JL (2000) Urban soil management: a growing concern. Soil Sci 165(1):31–40

  9. De Miguel E, Iribarren I, Chacon E, Ordonez A, Charlesworth S (2007) Risk-based evaluation of the exposure of children to trace elements in playgrounds in Madrid (Spain). Chemosphere 66(3):505–513

  10. Eijsackers H, Reinecke A, Reinecke S, Maboeta M (2019) Heavy metal threats to plants and soil life in Southern Africa: present knowledge and consequences for ecological risk assessment

  11. Fordyce FM, Brown SE, Ander EL, Rawlins BG, O’Donnell KE, Lister TR, Johnson CC (2005) GSUE: urban geochemical mapping in Great Britain. Geochem Explor Environ Anal 5(4):325–336

  12. Gale NL, Adams CD, Wixson BG, Loftin KA, Huang YW (2004) Lead, zinc, copper, and cadmium in fish and sediments from the Big River and Flat River Creek of Missouri’s Old Lead Belt. Environ Geochem Health 26(1):37–49

  13. Hakanson L (1980) An ecological risk index for aquatic pollution control. A sedimentological approach. Water Res 14(8):975–1001

  14. Islam MS, Ahmed MK, Raknuzzaman M, Habibullah-Al-Mamun M, Islam MK (2015) Heavy metal pollution in surface water and sediment: a preliminary assessment of an urban river in a developing country. Ecol Ind 48:282–291

  15. Kadam AK, Kale SS, Umrikar BN, Sankhua RN, Pawar NJ (2017a) Identifying possible locations to construct soil-water conservation structures by using hydro-geological and geospatial analysis. Hydrospatial Anal 1(1):18–27

  16. Kadam AK, Jaweed TH, Umrikar BN, Hussain K, Sankhua RN (2017b) Morphometric prioritization of semi-arid watershed for plant growth potential using GIS technique. Model Earth Syst Environ 3(4):1663–1673

  17. Kadam A, Karnewar AS, Umrikar B, Sankhua RN (2018a) Hydrological response-based watershed prioritization in semiarid, basaltic region of western India using frequency ratio, fuzzy logic and AHP method. Environ Dev Sustain.

  18. Kadam Ajaykumar K, Umrikar BN, Sankhua RN (2018b) Assessment of soil loss using revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE): a remote sensing and GIS approach. Remote Sens Land 2(1):65–75

  19. Kadam AK, Wagh VM, Muley AA, Umrikar BN, Sankhua RN (2019) Prediction of water quality index using artificial neural network and multiple linear regression modelling approach in Shivganga River basin, India. Model Earth Syst Environ.

  20. Kassim JK (2013) Method for estimation of calcium carbonate in soils from Iraq. Int J Environ 1(1):9–19

  21. Kelepertzis E (2014) Accumulation of heavy metals in agricultural soils of Mediterranean: insights from Argolida basin, Peloponnese, Greece. Geoderma 221:82–90

  22. Keshavarzi A, Kumar V (2019) Spatial distribution and potential ecological risk assessment of heavy metals in agricultural soils of Northeastern Iran. Geol Ecol Landsc.

  23. Kettler TA, Doran JW, Gilbert TL (2001) Simplified method for soil particle-size determination to accompany soil-quality analyses. Soil Sci Soc Am J 65(3):849–852

  24. Lee CSL, Li X, Shi W, Cheung SCN, Thornton I (2006) Metal contamination in urban, suburban, and country park soils of Hong Kong: a study based on GIS and multivariate statistics. Sci Total Environ 356(1–3):45–61

  25. Li X, Lee SL, Wong SC, Shi W, Thornton I (2004) The study of metal contamination in urban soils of Hong Kong using a GIS-based approach. Environ Pollut 129(1):113–124

  26. Loredo J, Ordóñez A, Charlesworth S, De Miguel E (2003) Influence of industry on the geochemical urban environment of Mieres (Spain) and associated health risk. Environ Geochem Health 25(3):307–323

  27. Lu SG, Bai SQ (2006) Study on the correlation of magnetic properties and heavy metals content in urban soils of Hangzhou City, China. J Appl Geophys 60(1):1–12

  28. Luo XS, Yu S, Zhu YG, Li XD (2012) Trace metal contamination in urban soils of China. Sci Total Environ 421–422:17–30

  29. Maanan M, Saddik M, Maanan M, Chaibi M, Assobhei O, Zourarah B (2015) Environmental and ecological risk assessment of heavy metals in sediments of Nador lagoon, Morocco. Ecol Ind 48:616–626

  30. Manta DS, Angelone M, Bellanca A, Neri R, Sprovieri M (2002) Heavy metals in urban soils: a case study from the city of Palermo (Sicily), Italy. Sci Total Environ 300(1–3):229–243

  31. Morton-Bermea O, Hernández-Álvarez E, González-Hernández G, Romero F, Lozano R, Beramendi-Orosco LE (2009) Assessment of heavy metal pollution in urban topsoil from the metropolitan area of Mexico City. J Geochem Explor 101(3):218–224

  32. Olawoyin R, Oyewole SA, Grayson RL (2012) Potential risk effect from elevated levels of soil heavy metals on human health in the Niger delta. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 85:120–130

  33. Orlov DS (1992) Soil chemistry. AA Balkema Publishers, Amsterdam

  34. Pan L, Wang Y, Ma J, Hu Y, Su B, Fang G, Xiang B (2018) A review of heavy metal pollution levels and health risk assessment of urban soils in Chinese cities. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25(2):1055–1069

  35. Qing X, Yutong Z, Shenggao L (2015) Assessment of heavy metal pollution and human health risk in urban soils of steel industrial city (Anshan), Liaoning, Northeast China. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 120:377–385

  36. Shirke KD, Pawar NJ (2018). Appraisal of heavy metals in soil/sediments with relation to their physico-chemical properties from Ankaleshwar Industrial Area, South Gujarat

  37. Sonmez S, Buyuktas D, Okturen F, Citak S (2008) Assessment of different soil to water ratios (1:1, 1:2.5, 1:5) in soil salinity studies. Geoderma 144(1–2):361–369

  38. Sutherland RA (2000) Bed sediment-associated trace metals in an urban stream, Oahu, Hawaii. Environ Geol 39(6):611–627

  39. Tarzia M, De Vivo B, Somma R, Ayuso RA, McGill RAR, Parrish RR (2002) Anthropogenic vs natural pollution: an environmental study of an industrial site under remediation (Naples, Italy). Geochem Explor Environ Anal 2(1):45–56

  40. Turekian KK, Wedepohl KH (1961) Distribution of the elements in some major units of the earth’s crust. Geol Soc Am Bull 72(2):175–192

  41. USEPA (1986) Guideline for carcinogen risk assessment, 630/R-00/004. Washington DC

  42. USEPA (2005). Human health risk assessment protocol.

  43. Wagh VM, Panaskar DB, Mukate SV, Gaikwad SK, Muley AA, Varade AM (2018) Health risk assessment of heavy metal contamination in groundwater of Kadava River Basin, Nashik, India. Model Earth Syst Environ 4(3):969–980

  44. Wagh VM, Panaskar DB, Jacobs JA, Mukate SV, Muley AA, Kadam AK (2019) Influence of hydro-geochemical processes on groundwater quality through geostatistical techniques in Kadava River basin, Western India. Arab J Geosci 12(1):7

  45. Wei BG, Yang LS (2010) A review of heavy metal contaminations in urban soils, urban road dusts and agricultural soils from China. Microchem J 94:99–107

  46. Wong CS, Li X, Thornton I (2006) Urban environmental geochemistry of trace metals. Environ Pollut 142(1):1–16

  47. Yuan GL, Sun TH, Han P, Li J (2013) Environmental geochemical mapping and multivariate geostatistical analysis of heavy metals in topsoil of a closed steel smelter: capital Iron & Steel Factory, Beijing, China. J Geochem Explor 130:15–21

Download references


Authors acknowledge Prof. N. R. Karmalkar (former Head of Environmental Science Department and Vice-Chancellor, Savitribai Phule Pune University) for providing necessary facilities for XRF analysis. Authors also thankful to Dr. Malika, for helping in XRF analysis. Authors are grateful to anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions which help to modify the manuscript in more scientific manner.

Author information

Correspondence to Ajaykumar Kadam.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

Authors do not have any conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Karande, U.B., Kadam, A., Umrikar, B.N. et al. Environmental modelling of soil quality, heavy-metal enrichment and human health risk in sub-urbanized semiarid watershed of western India. Model. Earth Syst. Environ. 6, 545–556 (2020).

Download citation


  • Soil quality
  • Heavy-metal enrichment
  • Human health risk
  • Sub-urbanized area
  • Western India