Articles | Volume 9, issue 3
Research article
23 May 2018
Research article |  | 23 May 2018

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon in urban soils of an Eastern European megalopolis: distribution, source identification and cancer risk evaluation

George Shamilishvily, Evgeny Abakumov, and Dmitriy Gabov

Abstract. This study explores qualitative and quantitative composition of 15 priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban soils of some parkland, residential and industrial areas of the large industrial centre of Saint Petersburg (Russian Federation) in Eastern Europe. The aim of the study was to test the hypothesis on the PAH loading differences among urban territories with different land use scenarios. Benzo(a)pyrene toxic equivalency factors (TEFs) were used to calculate BaPeq in order to evaluate carcinogenic risk of soil contamination with PAHs. Results of the study demonstrated that soils within residential and industrial areas are characterized by common loads of PAHs generally attributed to high traffic activity in the city. Considerable levels of soil contamination with PAHs were noted. Total PAH concentrations ranged from 0.33 to 8.10 mg kg−1. A larger portion of high-molecular-weight PAHs along with determined molecular ratios suggest the predominance of pyrogenic sources, mainly attributed to combustion of gasoline, diesel and oil. Petrogenic sources of PAHs have a significant portion and define the predominance of low-molecular-weight PAHs associated with petroleum, such as phenanthrene. Derived concentrations of seven carcinogenic PAHs as well as calculated BaPeq were multiple times higher than reported in a number of other studies. The obtained BaPeq concentrations of the sum of 15 PAHs ranged from 0.05 to 1.39 mg kg−1. A vast majority of examined samples showed concentrations above the safe value of 0.6 mg kg−1 (CCME, 2010). However, estimated incremental lifetime risks posed to the population through distinct routes of exposure were in an acceptable range. One-way ANOVA results showed significant differences in total PAHs and the sum of seven carcinogenic PAH concentrations as well as in levels of FLU, PHE, FLT, PYR, BaA, CHR, BbF, BaP and BPE among parkland, residential and industrial land uses, suggesting the influence of the land use factor.