Ecological risk assessment and source apportionment of heavy metals contamination: an appraisal based on the Tellus soil survey

Keshavarzi A., Kumar V., ERTUNÇ G. , Brevik E. C.

ENVIRONMENTAL GEOCHEMISTRY AND HEALTH, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume:
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10653-020-00787-w


It is imperative to comprehend the level and spatial distribution of soil pollution with heavy metals to find sustainable management approaches for affected soils. Selected heavy metals (Mn, Zn, Pb, Cu, Cr, Ni, As, Co, and Cd) and physiochemical parameters were appraised for 620 samples from industrial, agricultural and urban sites in Northern Ireland using the Tellus database. The findings of this study showed that among the analyzed heavy metals, Mn content was the highest and Cd content the lowest. Pearson's correlation analysis revealed that heavy metals were highly correlated with each other, signifying similar sources for the heavy metals. Mixed factors (anthropogenic and lithogenic) were responsible for the contribution of heavy metals as revealed by multivariate statistical analysis. The results of contamination factor and enrichment factor analyses suggest that As, Cd, and Pb showed very high risk for pollution in the study area. The geoaccumulation index revealed that with the exception of Cd, all analyzed heavy metals showed severe accumulation in the soils. The potential and modified ecological risk indices inferred that Cd, As, and Pb represented ecological threats in the soils of Northern Ireland. The findings of this study will aid in forming approaches to decrease the risks associated with heavy metals in industrial, urban and agricultural soils, and help create guidelines to protect the environment from long-term accumulation of heavy metals.