Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 569–584 | Cite as

Correlation analysis as a tool to investigate the bioaccessibility of nickel, vanadium and zinc in Northern Ireland soils

  • Sherry Palmer
  • Ulrich Ofterdinger
  • Jennifer M. McKinley
  • Siobhan Cox
  • Amy Barsby
Original Paper


Correlation analyses were conducted on nickel (Ni), vanadium (V) and zinc (Zn) oral bioaccessible fractions (BAFs) and selected geochemistry parameters to identify specific controls exerted over trace element bioaccessibility. BAFs were determined by previous research using the unified BARGE method. Total trace element concentrations and soil geochemical parameters were analysed as part of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland Tellus Project. Correlation analysis included Ni, V and Zn BAFs against their total concentrations, pH, estimated soil organic carbon (SOC) and a further eight element oxides. BAF data were divided into three separate generic bedrock classifications of basalt, lithic arenite and mudstone prior to analysis, resulting in an increase in average correlation coefficients between BAFs and geochemical parameters. Sulphur trioxide and SOC, spatially correlated with upland peat soils, exhibited significant positive correlations with all BAFs in gastric and gastro-intestinal digestion phases, with such effects being strongest in the lithic arenite bedrock group. Significant negative relationships with bioaccessible Ni, V and Zn and their associated total concentrations were observed for the basalt group. Major element oxides were associated with reduced oral trace element bioaccessibility, with Al2O3 resulting in the highest number of significant negative correlations followed by Fe2O3. spatial mapping showed that metal oxides were present at reduced levels in peat soils. The findings illustrate how specific geology and soil geochemistry exert controls over trace element bioaccessibility, with soil chemical factors having a stronger influence on BAF results than relative geogenic abundance. In general, higher Ni, V and Zn bioaccessibility is expected in peat soil types.


Bioaccessibility Geogenic contamination Geochemistry Trace elements Human health risk assessment 



The authors would like to thank the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland for supplying the necessary geochemical and spatial data for this research. UBM testing at BGS Keyworth, Nottingham was funded by the BGS University Funding Initiative (BUFI). The Tellus Project was funded by the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and by the Rural Development Programme through the Northern Ireland Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest either with the funders of this research or with the sponsors of this special edition.

Supplementary material

10653_2013_9540_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 25 kb)


  1. Abollino, O., Maladrino, M., Giacomino, A., & Mentasti, E. (2011). The role of chemometrics in single and sequential extraction assays: A review Part I. Extraction procedures, uni- and bivariate techniques and multivariate variable reduction techniques for pattern recognition. Analytica Chimica Acta, 688, 104–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (2005). Toxicological profile for zinc. Atlanta, GA: United States Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
  3. Ball, D. F. (1964). Loss on ignition as an estimate of organic matter and organic carbon in non-calcareous soils. European Journal of Soil Science, 15(1), 84–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. BARGE/INERIS (2010). UBM procedure for the measurement of inorganic contaminant bioaccessibility from solid matrices. Downloaded from bioaccessibility research group of Europe home page on 26th April 2012.Google Scholar
  5. Barsby, A., McKinley, J. M., Ofterdinger, U., Young, M., Cave, M. R., & Wragg, J. (2012). Bioaccessibility of trace elements in soils in Northern Ireland. Science of the Total Environment, 433, 398–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Broadway, A., Cave, M. R., Wragg, J., Fordyce, F. M., Bewley, R. J. F., Graham, M. C., et al. (2010). Determination of the bioaccessibility of chromium in Glasgow soil and the implications for human health risk assessment. Science of the Total Environment, 409, 267–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caboche, J. (2009). Validation d’un test de mesure de bioaccessibilité. Application à quatre éléments traces métallique dans les sols: As, Cd, Pb et Sb. Science Agronomique. PhD. L’Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine, Nancy, 348.Google Scholar
  8. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) (1999). Zinc. Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Environmental and Human Health.Google Scholar
  9. Cances, B., Juillot, F., Morin, G., Laperche, V., Polya, D., Vaughan, D. J., et al. (2008). Changes in arsenic speciation through a contaminated soil profile: A XAS based study. Science of the Total Environment, 397, 178–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cave, M., Taylor, H., and Wragg, J. (2007). Estimation of the bioaccessible arsenic fraction in soils using near infrared spectroscopy. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A, 42, 1293–1301.Google Scholar
  11. Cave, M. R., & Wragg, J. (1997). Measurement of trace element distributions in soils and sediments using sequential leach data and a non-specific extraction system with chemometric data processing. Analyst, 122, 1211–1221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cave, M. R., Wragg, J., Palumbo, B., and Klinck, B. A. (2003). Measurement of the bioaccessibility of arsenic in UK soils. Environment Agency R&D Technical Report P5-062/TR02.Google Scholar
  13. Chesworth, W., Dejou, Jean, & Larroque, Pierre. (1981). The weathering of basalt and relative mobilities of the major elements at Belbex, France. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 45, 1235–1243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cox, S. F., Chelliah, M., McKinley, J. M., Palmer, S., Ofterdinger, U., Cave, M. R., Wragg, J., & Young, M. (2013). The importance of solid-phase distribution on the oral bioaccessibility of Ni and Cr in soils overlying Palaeogene basalt lavas, Northern Ireland. Environmental Geochemistry and Health (accepted).Google Scholar
  15. Denys, S., Caboche, J., Tack, K., and Delalain, P. (2007). Bioaccessibility of lead in high carbonate soils. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A, 42, 1331–1339.Google Scholar
  16. Denys, S., Caboche, J., Tack, K., Rychen, G., Wragg, J., Cave, M., et al. (2012). In vivo validation of the unified BARGE method to assess the bioaccessibility of arsenic, antimony, cadmium and lead in soils. Environmental Science and Technology, 46, 6252–6260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) (2012). Environmental Protection Act 1990: Part 2A. Contaminated Land Statutory Guidance. HM Government, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  18. Elzinga, E. J., & Cirmo, A. (2010). Application of sequential extractions and X-ray absorption spectroscopy to determine the speciation of chromium in Northern New Jersey marsh soils developed in chromite ore processing residue (COPR). Journal of Hazardous Materials, 183, 145–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Environment Agency (2009a). Soil guideline values for nickel in soil. Science Report SC050021/Nickel SGV.Google Scholar
  20. Environment Agency (2009b). Soil guideline values for inorganic arsenic in soil. Science Report SC050021/Arsenic SGV.Google Scholar
  21. Environment Agency (2009c). Contaminants in soil: Updated collation of toxicological data and intake values for humans. Inorganic arsenic. Science report SC050021/TOX 1.Google Scholar
  22. Environment Agency (2009d). Contaminants in soil: Updated collation of toxicological data and intake values for humans. Nickel. Science report SC050021/TOX 8.Google Scholar
  23. Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) (2010). How inverse distance weighted interpolation works. ArcGIS v.10 help files.Google Scholar
  24. Farmer, J. G., Broadway, A., Cave, M. R., Wragg, J., Fordyce, F. M., Graham, M. C., et al. (2011). A lead isotopic study of the human bioaccessibility of lead in urban soils from Glasgow, Scotland. Science of the Total Environment, 409, 4958–4965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Finžgar, N., Tlustoš, P., & Leštan, D. (2007). Relationship of soil properties to fractionation, bioavailability and mobility of lead and zinc in soil. Plant Soil and Environment, 53, 225–238.Google Scholar
  26. Flynn, H. C., Meharg, A. A., Bowyer, P. K., & Paton, G. I. (2003). Antimony bioavailability in mine soils. Environmental Pollution, 124, 93–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Guo, T., DeLaune, R. D., & Patrick, W. H, Jr. (1997). The influence of sediment redox chemistry on chemically active forms of arsenic, cadmium, chromium and zinc in estuarine sediment. Environment International, 23(3), 305–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hursthouse, A. S. (2001). The relevance of speciation in the remediation of soils and sediments by metallic elements—An overview and examples from Central Scotland, UK. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 3, 49–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Imrie, C. E., Korre, A., Munoz-Melendez, G., Thornton, I., & Durucan, S. (2008). Application of factorial kriging analysis to the FOREGS European topsoil geochemistry database. Science of the Total Environment, 393, 96–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jordan, C., Higgins, A., Hamill, K., & Cruickshank, J. G. (2001). The soil geochemical atlas of Northern Ireland. NI: Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.Google Scholar
  31. Jordan, C., Zhang, C., & Higgins, A. (2007). Using GIS and statistics to study influences of geology on probability features of surface soil geochemistry in Northern Ireland. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 93, 135–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Konen, M. E., Jacobs, P. M., Burras, C. L., Talaga, B. J., & Mason, J. A. (2002). Equations for predicting soil organic carbon using loss-on-ignition for North Central U.S. Soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 66(6), 1878–1881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Laveuf, C., Cornu, S., Baize, D., Hardy, M., Josiere, O., Drouin, S., et al. (2009). Zinc redistribution in a soil developed from limestone during pedogenesis. Pedosphere, 19(3), 292–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ljung, K., Oomen, A., Duits, M., Selinus, O., & Berglund, M. (2007). Bioaccessibility of metals in urban playground soils. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A, 42, 1241–1250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lloyd, C. D. (2010). Spatial data analysis: An introduction for GIS users. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Ma, J., Wei, G., Xu, Y., Long, W., & Sun, W. (2007). Mobilisation and redistribution of major and trace elements during extreme weathering of basalt in Hainan Island, South China. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 71, 3223–3237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Matheron, G. (1965). The theory of regionalised variables and their estimation. Paris: Masson.Google Scholar
  38. Meunier, L., Walker, S. R., Wragg, J., Parsons, M. B., Koch, I., Jamieson, H. E., et al. (2010). Effects of soil composition and mineralogy on the bioaccessibility of arsenic from tailings and soil in gold mine districts of Nova Scotia. Environmental Science and Technology, 44, 2667–2674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mitchell, W. I. (2004). The geology of Northern Ireland: Our natural foundation. Antrim: Geological Survey of Northern Ireland.Google Scholar
  40. Nathanail, P., McCaffrey, C., Ashmore, M., Cheng, Y., Gillett, A., Ogden, R., et al. (2009). The LQM/CIEH generic assessment criteria for human health risk assessment (2nd ed.). Nottingham: Land Quality Press.Google Scholar
  41. Nathanail, C. P., & Smith, R. (2007). Incorporating bioaccessibility in detailed quantitative human health risk assessments. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A, 42, 1193–1202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Oomen, A., Rompleberg, C., Bruil, M., Dobbe, C., Pereboom, D., & Sips, A. (2003). Development of an in vitro digestion model for estimating the bioaccessibility of soil contaminants. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 44, 281–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Palumbo-Roe, B., & Klinck, B. (2007). Bioaccessibility of arsenic in mine waste-contaminated soils: A case study from an abandoned arsenic mine in SW England (UK). Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A, 42, 1251–1261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pelfrêne, A., Waterlot, C., Mazzuca, M., Nisse, C., Cuny, D., Richard, A., et al. (2012). Bioaccessibility of trace elements as affected by soil parameters in smelter-contaminated agricultural soils: a statistical modelling approach. Environmental Pollution, 160, 130–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Poggio, L., Vrščaj, B., Schulin, R., Hepperle, E., & Marsan, F. (2009). Metals pollution and human bioaccessibility of topsoils in Grugliasco (Italy). Environmental Pollution, 157, 680–689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ruby, M., Davis, A., Schoof, R., Eberle, S., & Sellstone, C. (1996). Estimation of lead and arsenic bioavailability using a physiologically based extraction test. Environmental Science and Technology, 30(2), 422–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ruby, M., Schoof, R., Brattin, W., Goldade, M., Post, G., Harnois, M., et al. (1999). Advances in evaluating the oral bioavailability of inorganics in soil for use in human health risk assessment. Environmental Science and Technology, 33(21), 3697–3706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Salehi, M., Hashemi Beni, O., Beigi Harchegani, H., Esfandiarpour Borujeni, I., & Motaghian, H. (2011). Refining soil organic matter determination by loss-on-ignition. Pedosphere, 21(4), 473–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Smyth, D. (2007). Methods used in the Tellus geochemical mapping of Northern Ireland. British Geological Survey Open Report OR/07/022, 2007.Google Scholar
  50. Sparks, D. (1995). Environmental soil chemistry. New York: Academic Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  51. Theng, B. (1974). The chemistry of clay organic reactions. New York: Halsted Press.Google Scholar
  52. Triola, M. (1998). Elementary statistics (7th ed.). USA: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.Google Scholar
  53. Van De Weile, T., Oomen, A., Wragg, J., Cave, M., Minekus, M., Hack, A., et al. (2007). Comparison of five in vitro digestion models to in vivo experimental results: Lead bioaccessibility in the human gastrointestinal tract. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A, 42, 1203–1211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wilson, H. (1972). Regional geology of Northern Ireland. Belfast: Geological Survey of Northern Ireland; Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  55. Wragg, J. (2009). BGS guidance material 102, Ironstone Soil, Certificate of Analysis: IR/09/006.Google Scholar
  56. Wragg, J., and Cave, M. R. (2003). In-vitro Methods for the Measurement of the Oral Bioaccessibility of Selected Metals and Metalloids in Soils: A Critical Review. BGS R&D Technical Report P5-062/TR/01.Google Scholar
  57. Wragg, J., Cave, M., Basta, N., Brandon, E., Casteel, S., Denys, S., et al. (2011). An inter-laboratory trial of the unified BARGE bioaccessibility method for arsenic, cadmium and lead in soil. Science of the Total Environment, 409, 4016–4030.Google Scholar
  58. Wragg, J., Cave, M., and Nathanail, P. (2007). A study of the relationship between arsenic bioaccessibility and its solid-phase distribution in soils from Wellingborough, UK. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A, 42, 1303–1315.Google Scholar
  59. Wragg, J., Cave, M., Taylor, H., Basta, N., Brandon, E., Casteel, S., Gron, C., Oomen, A., and Van de Wiele, T. (2009). Inter-laboratory trial of a unified bioaccessibility procedure. British Geological Survey Chemical & Biological Hazards Programme, Open Report OR/07/027.Google Scholar
  60. Zhang, C., Fay, D., McGrath, D., Grennan, E., & Carton, O. (2007). Statistical analyses of geochemical variables of soils in Ireland. Geoderma, 146, 378–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sherry Palmer
    • 1
  • Ulrich Ofterdinger
    • 1
  • Jennifer M. McKinley
    • 2
  • Siobhan Cox
    • 1
  • Amy Barsby
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Planning, Architecture and Civil EngineeringQueen’s UniversityBelfastUK
  2. 2.School of Geography, Archaeology and PalaeoecologyQueen’s UniversityBelfastUK

Personalised recommendations