Availability and Bioaccessibility of Metals in Fine Particles of Some Urban Soils

  • F. Madrid
  • M. Biasioli
  • F. Ajmone-Marsan


Metals in urban soils might be transferred to humans via ingestion, dermal contact, or breathing, especially to children due to the “hand to mouth” activity during outdoor activities in playground and recreational areas. This involuntary soil ingestion depends on soil adherence to skin; it is known that the adhesion process tends to exclude particles greater than 50 μm, so the fraction below this diameter would be the most dangerous for health. The aim of this work was to study the “availability”, estimated by the EDTA extraction, and “oral bioaccessibility”, estimated by the Simple Bioaccessibility Extraction Test (SBET), of several metals in urban soils of two European cities (Sevilla and Torino), as related to the soil particle size distribution. Torino and Sevilla showed different levels of metal contents, availability, and bioaccessibility. In Torino, the finer particles showed metal enrichment of Cu, Zn, and, to a lesser extent, Pb, whereas in Sevilla, all of the studied metals showed this enrichment compared to the whole soils. The whole soil cannot be used as a good general indicator of the bioaccessibility of metals in the finest fractions of the soil. Metal availability was higher in the clay fraction (<2 μm) than in other fractions or whole soils in both cities, and principal component analysis shows that availability is especially due to this fraction. In contrast, Cu and Pb bioaccessibility in the clay fraction seems to be slightly lower than, or comparable to, all of the other fractions and the whole soil. Bioaccessibility of Cr and Ni is clearly greater in the coarser fractions of Sevilla than those of Torino, despite the considerably greater total contents of both metals in the latter city. Adsorbed metal forms are assumed to be preferentially responsible for metals released by EDTA. A different origin is attributed to bioaccessible metal forms. Anthropic influence seems more important in determining metal availability and bioaccessibility in urban soils of both cities than the different geological or industrial characteristics.


Urban soils EDTA extraction SBET extraction Fine particles 


  1. Abrahams PW (2002) Soils: their implications to human health. Sci Total Environ 291:1–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ajmone-Marsan F, Biasioli M, Kralj T, et al. (2007) Metals in particle-size fractions of the soils of five European cities. Environ Pollut (in press). doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2007.05.020
  3. Artíñano B, Salvador P, Alonso DG, Querol X, Alastuey A (2003) Anthropogenic and natural influence on the PM10 and PM2.5 aerosol in Madrid (Spain). Analysis of high concentration episodes. Environ Pollut 125:453–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barberis E, Ajmone-Marsan F, Boero V, Arduino E (1992) Aggregation of soil particles by iron oxides in various size fractions of soil B horizons. J Soil Sci 42:535–542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Basta NT, Gradwohl R, Snethen KL, Schroder JL (2001) Chemical immobilization of lead, zinc, and cadmium in smelter-contaminated soils using biosolids and rock phosphate. J Environ Qual 30:1222–1230Google Scholar
  6. Biasioli M, Barberis R, Ajmone-Marsan F (2006) The influence of a large city on some soil properties and metals content. Sci Total Environ 356:154–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Biasioli M, Grčman H, Kralj T, Madrid F, Díaz-Barrientos E, Ajmone-Marsan F (2007) Potentially toxic elements contamination in urban soils: A comparison of three European cities. J Environ Qual 36:70–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown SL, Chaney RL (1997) A rapid in-vitro procedure to characterize the effectiveness of a variety of in-situ lead remediation technologies. In: Proceedings of Extended Abstract 4th International Conference on Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements, pp 419-420Google Scholar
  9. Chen T, Zheng Y, Lei M, et al. (2005) Assessment of heavy metal pollution in surface soils of urban parks in Beijing, China. Chemosphere 60:542–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. De Miguel E, Iribarren I, Chacón E, Ordóñez A, Charlesworth S (2007) Risk-based evaluation of the exposure of children to trace elements in playgrounds in Madrid (Spain). Chemosphere 66:505–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. De Miguel E, Llamas JF, Chacón E, et al. (1997) Origin and patterns of distribution of trace elements in street dust: unleaded petrol and urban lead. Atmos Environ 31:2733–2740CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Facchinelli A, Sacchi E, Mallen L (2001) Multivariate statistical and GIS-based approach to identify heavy metal sources in soils. Environ Pollut114:313–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Geebelen W, Adriano DC, van der Lelie D, et al. (2003) Selected bioavailability assays to test the efficacy of amendment-induced immobilization of lead in soils. Plant Soil 249:217–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gupta SK, Vollmer MK, Krebs R (1996) The importance of mobile, mobilisable and pseudo total heavy metal heavy metal fractions in soil for three-level risk assessment and risk management. Sci Total Environ 178:11–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Inaba S, Takenaka C (2005) Effects of dissolved organic matter on toxicity and bioavailability of copper for lettuce sprouts. Environ Int 31:603–608CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jensen PE, Ottosen LM, Pedersen AJ (2006) Speciation of Pb in industrially polluted soils. Water Air Soil Pollut 170:359–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnson DL, Bretsch JK (2002) Soil lead and children’s blood lead levels in Syracuse, NY, USA. Environ Geochem Health 18:375–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kim J, Kim K, Lee J, Lee J, Cook J (2002) Assessment of As and heavy metal contamination in the vicinity of Duckum Au-Ag mine, Korea. Environ Geochem Health 24:215–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lee S, Lee B, Kim J, Kim K, Lee J. (2006). Human risk assessment for heavy metal and As in the abandoned metal mine areas, Korea. Environ Monit Assess 119:233–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lindsay WL (1979) Chemical equilibria in soils. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Ljung K, Selinus O, Otabbong E, Berglund M (2006) Metal and arsenic distribution in soil particle sizes relevant to soil ingestion by children. Appl Geochem 21:1613–1624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Madrid L, Díaz-Barrientos E, Madrid F (2002) Distribution of heavy metal content of urban soils in parks of Seville. Chemosphere 49:1301–1308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Madrid L, Díaz-Barrientos E, Reinoso R, Madrid F (2004) Metals in urban soils of Sevilla: seasonal changes and relations with other soil components and plant contents. Eur J Soil Sci 55:209–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Madrid F, Reinoso R, Florido MC, et al. (2007) Estimating the extractability of potentially toxic metals in urban soils: a comparison of several extracting solutions. Environ Pollut 147:713–722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mench M, Vangronsveld J, Beckx C, Ruttens A (2006) Progress in assisted natural remediation of an arsenic contaminated agricultural soil. Environ Pollut 144:51–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mielke HW, Anderson JC, Berry KJ, Mielke PW Jr, Chaney RL, Leech M (1983) Lead concentration in inner city soils as a factor in the child lead problem. Am J Public Health 73:1366–1369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mielke HW, Gonzalez CR, Smith MK, Mielke PW (1999) The urban environment and children’s health: soils as an integrator of lead, zinc and cadmium in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A. Environ Res 81:117–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mossetti S, Angius S, Angelino E (2005) Assessing the impact of particulate matter sources in the Milan urban area. Int J Environ Pollut 24:247–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nathanail CP, McCaffrey C (2003) The use of oral bioaccessibility in assessment of risks to human health from contaminated land. Land Contam Reclam 11:309–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. NEPI (2000) Assessing the bioavailability of metals in soil for use in human health risk assessment. Bioavailability Policy Project Phase II Metal Task Force Report. The National Environmental Policy Institute, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  31. Ng SL, Chan LS, Lam KC, Chan WK (2003) Heavy metal contents and magnetic properties of playground dust in Hong Kong. Environ Monit Assess 89:221–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Qian J, Shan X, Wang Z, Tu Q (1996) Distribution and plant availability of heavy metals in different particle-size fractions of soil. Sci Total Environ 187:131–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ren HM, Wang JD, Zhang XL (2006) Assessment of soil lead exposure in children in Shenyang, China. Environl Pollut 144:327–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ringbom A (1979) Complexation in analytical chemistry. Krieger, Huntington, NYGoogle Scholar
  35. Ruby MV, Davis A, Link TE, et al. (1993) Development of an in vitro screening test to evaluate the in vivo bioaccessibility of ingested mine-waste lead. Environ Sci Technol 27:2870–2877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ruby MV, Davis A, Schoof R, Eberle S, Sellstone CM (1996) Estimation of lead and arsenic bioavailability using a physiologically based extraction test. Environ Sci Technol 30:422–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ruby MV, Schoof R, Brattin W, et al. (1999) Advances in evaluating the oral bioavailability of inorganics in soil for use in human health risk assessment. Environ Sci Technol 33:3697–3705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sheppard SC, Evenden WG (1994) Contaminant enrichment and properties of soil adhering to skin. J Environ Qual 23:604–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ure AM, Quevauvillier Ph, Muntau H, Griepink KB (1993) Speciation of heavy metals in soils and sediments. An account of the improvement and harmonization of extraction techniques undertaken under the auspices of the BCR of the Commission of the European Communities. Int J Environ Anal Chem 51:135–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. US EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) (2002) Child-specific exposure factors handbook. National Center for Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC, EPA/600/P-00/002B/National Information Service, Springfield, VA, PB2003-101678. Available from
  41. US EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) (2007) Bioavailability. Available from
  42. Walter C, McBratney AB, Viscarra Rossel RA, Markus JA. (2005) Spatial point-process statistics: concepts and application to the analysis of lead contamination in urban soil. Environmetrics 16:339–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wang X, Qin Y (2007) Relationships between heavy metals and iron oxides, fulvic acids, particle size fractions in urban roadside soils. Environ Geol 52:63–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wong CSC, Li X, Thornton I (2006) Urban environmental geochemistry of trace metals. Environ Pollut 142:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wong JWC, Mak NK (1997) Heavy metal pollution in children playgrounds in Hong Kong and its health implications. Environ Technol 18:109–115Google Scholar
  46. Wragg J, Cave ML (2003) In-vitro methods for the measurement or the oral bioaccesibility of selected metals and metalloids: A critical review. Technical report P5-062/TR/01. British Geological SurveyGoogle Scholar
  47. Yamamoto N, Takahashi Y, Yoshinaga J, Tanaka A, Shibata Y (2006) Size distribution of soil particles adhered to children’s hands. Arch Environl Contam Toxicol 51:157–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zhai M, Kampunzu HAB, Modisi MP, Totolo O (2003) Distribution of heavy metals in Gaborone urban soils (Botswana) and its relationship to soil pollution and bedrock composition. Environ Geol 45:171–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiología de Sevilla (CSIC)SevillaSpain
  2. 2.DI.VA.P.R.A., Chimica AgrariaUniversità di TorinoGrugliascoItaly

Personalised recommendations