Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Urban Soil in the Semi-arid City of Xi’an, Northwest China: Composition, Distribution, Sources, and Relationships with Soil Properties

  • Lijun Wang
  • Panqing Zhang
  • Li Wang
  • Wenjuan Zhang
  • Xingmin Shi
  • Xinwei Lu
  • Xiaoping Li
  • Xiaoyun Li


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are ubiquitous in the environment. This study collected a total of 62 urban soil samples from the typical semi-arid city of Xi’an in Northwest. They were analyzed for the composition, distribution, and sources of PAHs as well as the relationships with soil properties. The sum of 16 individual PAHs (∑16PAHs) ranged from 390.6 to 10,652.8 μg/kg with a mean of 2052.6 μg/kg. The average ∑16PAHs decreased in the order of the third ring road (2321.1 μg/kg) > the first ring road (1893.7 μg/kg) > the second ring road (1610.0 μg/kg), and in the order of industrial areas (3125.6 μg/kg) > traffic areas (2551.6 μg/kg) > educational areas (2414.4 μg/kg) > parks (1649.5 μg/kg) > mixed commercial and traffic areas (1332.8 μg/kg) > residential areas (1031.0 μg/kg). The most abundant PAHs in the urban soil were 3- to 5-ring PAHs. Elevated levels of PAHs were found in industrial and traffic areas from the east and west suburbs and the northwest corner of Xi’an as well as the northeast corner in the urban district of Xi’an. PAHs in the urban soil were mainly related to the combustion of fossil fuel (i.e., coal, gasoline, diesel, and natural gas) and biomass (i.e., grass and wood) (variance contribution 57.2%) as well as the emissions of petroleum and its products (variance contribution 29.9%). Soil texture and magnetic susceptibility were the main factors affecting the concentration of PAHs in urban soil. Meanwhile, this study suggested that the single, rapid, and nondeductive magnetic measurements can be an indicator of soil pollution by PAHs.



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China through Grants 41271510 and 41471420, the Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi Province through Grants 2016JQ4016 and 2014JM5208, and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central University through Grants GK201701010 and GK201601009.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lijun Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Panqing Zhang
    • 1
  • Li Wang
    • 1
  • Wenjuan Zhang
    • 1
  • Xingmin Shi
    • 1
  • Xinwei Lu
    • 1
  • Xiaoping Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiaoyun Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, School of Geography and TourismShaanxi Normal UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.International Joint Research Center of Shaanxi Province for Pollutant Exposure and Eco-environmental HealthXi’anPeople’s Republic of China

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