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Environ Monit Assess. 2014 Jun;186(6):3351-64. doi: 10.1007/s10661-014-3622-z. Epub 2014 Jan 22.

Profiles, sources, and transport of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in soils affected by electronic waste recycling in Longtang, south China.

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Guangdong Institute of Eco-Environmental and Soil Sciences, No. 808 Tianyuan Road, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, 510650, China.


We studied the profiles, possible sources, and transport of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soils from the Longtang area, which is an electronic waste (e-waste) recycling center in south China. The sum of 16 PAH concentrations ranged from 25 to 4,300 ng/g (dry weight basis) in the following order: pond sediment sites (77 ng/g), vegetable fields (129 ng/g), paddy fields (180 ng/g), wastelands (258 ng/g), dismantling sites (678 ng/g), and former open burning sites (2,340 ng/g). Naphthalene, phenanthrene, fluoranthene, pyrene, chrysene, and benzo[b]fluoranthene were the dominant PAHs and accounted for approximately 75 % of the total PAHs. The similar composition characteristics of PAHs and the significant correlations among individual, low molecular weight, high molecular weight, and total PAHs were found in all six sampling site types, thus indicating that PAHs originated from similar sources. The results of both isomeric ratios and principal component analyses confirmed that PAHs were mainly derived from the incomplete combustion of e-waste. The former open burning sites and dismantling sites were the main sources of PAHs. Soil samples that were taken closer to the point sources had high PAH concentrations. PAHs are transported via different soil profiles, including those in agricultural fields, and have been detected not only in 0- to 40-cm-deep soil but also in 40 cm to 80 cm-deep soil. PAH concentrations in soils in Longtang have been strongly affected by primitive e-waste recycling, particularly by former open burning activities.

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