Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 11011–11022 | Cite as

In situ investigation of heavy metals at trace concentrations in greenhouse soils via portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy

  • Kang Tian
  • Biao Huang
  • Zhe Xing
  • Wenyou Hu
Research Article


Soil pollution by heavy metals (HMs) has rapidly become a major threat to vegetable security. Nearly all cultivated soils are at risk of metal accumulation, and greenhouse soils are among the most heavily impacted soils. In this study, a rapid assessment of HMs at trace concentrations was conducted via portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) spectroscopy in Shouguang, China. Measurements were made via PXRF under in situ, ex situ and sieved conditions and by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) after acid digestion. The performance of each PXRF measure relative to the ICP-MS method was assessed by linear regression. Redundancy analysis was performed to quantify the proportion of explained variability between the PXRF and ICP-MS data. Evaluation of the possible sources of HMs and their potential risks was then conducted by multivariate analysis. The results showed that the PXRF data were closely correlated with ICP-MS quantification for Cu, Mn and Zn, whereas no significant correlations were found for As, Ni and Pb. The uncertainties of PXRF measurement derived from soil heterogeneity accounted for 20.02% of total variability and those from moisture and particle size accounted for 20.15%. The geo-accumulation index (Igeo) indicated that the greenhouse soils were potentially contaminated by Cu and Zn (Igeo > 0), which can be attributed to anthropogenic activities. Overall, PXRF spectroscopy is promising as a rapid and nondestructive in situ technique for assessing the potential risks of HMs at trace concentrations in greenhouse soils.


Greenhouse soils Heavy metals Potential risk PXRF Source identification 



This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41473073), the Key Frontier Project of Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. ISSASIP1629) and the Key Science and Technology Demonstration Project of Jiangsu Province (Grant No. BE2016812).

Supplementary material

11356_2018_1405_MOESM1_ESM.docx (62 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 62 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Soil Environment and Pollution Remediation, Institute of Soil ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Soil Resources & Biotech Applications, Northwestern Bio-Agriculture Research CenterChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  3. 3.Xi’an Botanical Garden of Shaanxi ProvinceInstitute of Botany of Shaanxi ProvinceXi’anChina

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