Spatial distribution and ecological risk assessment of trace metals in urban soils in Wuhan, central China

  • Chutian Zhang
  • Yong Yang
  • Weidong Li
  • Chuanrong Zhang
  • Ruoxi Zhang
  • Yang Mei
  • Xiangsen Liao
  • Yingying Liu


Surface soil samples from 467 sample sites were collected in urban area of Wuhan City in 2013, and total concentrations of five trace metals (Pb, Zn, Cu, Cr, and Cd) were measured. Multivariate and geostatistical analyses showed that concentrations of Pb, Zn, and Cu are higher along Yangtze River in the northern area of Wuhan, gradually decrease from city center to suburbs, and are mainly controlled by anthropogenic activities, while those of Cr and Cd are relatively spatially homogenous and mainly controlled by soil parent materials. Pb, Zn, Cu, and Cd have generally higher concentrations in roadsides, industrial areas, and residential areas than in school areas, greenbelts, and agricultural areas. Areas with higher road and population densities and longer urban construction history usually have higher trace metal concentrations. According to estimated results of the potential ecological risk index and Nemero synthesis pollution index, almost the whole urban area of Wuhan is facing considerable potential ecological risk caused by soil trace metals. These results reveal obvious trends of trace metal pollution, and an important impact of anthropogenic activities on the accumulation of trace metals in soil in Wuhan. Vehicular emission, industrial activities, and household wastes may be the three main sources for trace metal accumulation. Increasing vegetation cover may reduce this threat. It should be pointed out that Cd, which is strongly accumulated in soil, could be the largest soil pollution factor in Wuhan. Effective measures should be taken as soon as possible to deal with Cd enrichment, and other trace metals in soil should also be reduced, so as to protect human health in this important large city.


Spatial distribution Risk assessment Trace metal Contamination Urban soil Wuhan 



The research was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41101193), and the Fundamental Research Funds for National Universities (Grant No. 2662014PY062). Opinions in the paper do not constitute an endorsement or approval by the funding agencies and only reflect the personal views of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chutian Zhang
    • 1
  • Yong Yang
    • 1
  • Weidong Li
    • 2
  • Chuanrong Zhang
    • 2
  • Ruoxi Zhang
    • 1
  • Yang Mei
    • 1
  • Xiangsen Liao
    • 1
  • Yingying Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Arable Land Conservation (Middle and Lower Reaches of Yangtze River), Ministry of Agriculture, College of Resources and EnvironmentHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Center for Environmental Sciences and EngineeringUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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