Assessing soil contamination in automobile scrap yards by portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and magnetic susceptibility

  • Julierme Zimmer BarbosaEmail author
  • Giovana Clarice Poggere
  • Wilson Wagner Ribeiro Teixeira
  • Antonio Carlos Vargas Motta
  • Stephen A. Prior
  • Nilton Curi


A by-product of industrialization and population growth, automobile scrap yards are a potential source of metal contamination in soil. This study evaluated the use of portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) spectrometry and magnetic susceptibility (χ) analysis in assessing metal soil contamination in scrap yards located in Brazil. Five automobile scrap yards were selected in Curitiba, Paraná State (CB1, CB2, and CB3) and Lavras, Minas Gerais State (LV1 and LV2). By evaluating metal concentrations and geoaccumulation index values, we verified moderate Cu, Pb, and Zr contamination and moderate to high Zn contamination, primarily in the topsoil (0–10 cm). Soil Zn concentrations in automobile scrap yards were on average four times higher than in reference soils, suggesting that galvanized automobile parts may be the primary source of this soil contaminant. Although other elements (i.e., As, Cr, Fe, Nb, Ni, and Y) were slightly increased compared to reference values in one or more soils, concentrations did not constitute contamination. Automobile scrap yard topsoil had higher χ values (5.8 to 52.9 × 10−7 m3 kg−1) at low frequency (χlf) compared to reference soil (3.6 to 7.5 × 10−7 m3 kg−1). The highest values of χlf occurred in LV soils, which also represented the highest Zn contamination. Magnetic multidomain characteristics (percent frequency–dependent susceptibility between 2 and 10) indicated magnetic particle contributions of anthropogenic origin. The use of pXRF and χlf as non-destructive techniques displays potential for identifying soil contamination in automobile scrap yards.


Proximal sensing Urban soils Trace elements Galvanization Metal waste 



JZB and WWRT are grateful to the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) for doctoral scholarships. GCP, ACVM, and NC are grateful to the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) for research grant funding.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Ahmed, F., Fakhruddin, A. N. M., Imam, M. T., Khan, N., Khan, T. A., Rahman, M. M., & Abdullah, A. T. M. (2016). Spatial distribution and source identification of heavy metal pollution in roadside surface soil: a study of Dhaka Aricha highway, Bangladesh. Ecological Processes, 5, 2. Scholar
  2. Baltas, H., Sirin, M., Gökbayrak, E., & Ozcelik, A. E. (2020). A case study on pollution and a human health risk assessment of heavy metals in agricultural soils around Sinop province, Turkey. Chemosphere, 241, 125015. Scholar
  3. Bernardino, C. A., Mahler, C. F., Santelli, R. E., Freire, A. S., Braz, B. F., & Novo, L. A. (2019). Metal accumulation in roadside soils of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: impact of traffic volume, road age, and urbanization level. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 191, 156. Scholar
  4. Bourotte, C. L., Sugauara, L. E., Marchi, M. R. D., & Souto-Oliveira, C. E. (2019). Trace metals and PAHs in topsoils of the University campus in the megacity of São Paulo, Brazil. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 91, e20180334. Scholar
  5. Brasil. Lei N° 12.977, de 20 de maio de 2014. Accessed 14 June 2019.
  6. Burnett, J., Kussainov, N., & Hull, E. (2014). Scrap metal theft is legislation working for States? Accessed 14 June 2019.
  7. Conama (2009). Brazilian Environmental Agency Resolution 420. Accessed 14 June 2019.
  8. Dearing, J.A. (1994). Environmental magnetic susceptibility, Bartington Instruments. Chi Publishing, Kenilworth.Google Scholar
  9. Elbehiry, F., Elbasiouny, H., El-Ramady, H., & Brevik, E. C. (2019). Mobility, distribution, and potential risk assessment of selected trace elements in soils of the Nile Delta, Egypt. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 191, 713. Scholar
  10. Evin, E., & Tomáš, M. (2012). Comparison of deformation properties of steel sheets for car body parts. Procedia Engineering, 48, 115–122. Scholar
  11. Gaucha, Z.H. (2017) Lei dos desmanches ainda não engrenou e ferros-velhos ilegais seguem no mercado. Accessed 14 June 2019.
  12. Gee, G. W., & Bauder, J. W. (1986). Particle-size analysis. In A. Klute (Ed.), Methods of soil analysis, part 1: physical and mineralogical methods (pp. 383–412). Madison: Soil Science Society of America.Google Scholar
  13. Govedarica, D. D., Gavrilov, M. B., Zeremski, T. M., Govedarica, O. M., Hambach, U., Tomić, N. A., Sentić, I., & Marković, S. B. (2019). Relationships between heavy metal content and magnetic susceptibility in road side loess profiles: a possible way to detect pollution. Quaternary International, 502, 148–159. Scholar
  14. Hsu, D. J., Chung, S. H., Dong, J. F., Shih, H. C., Chang, H. B., & Chien, Y. C. (2018). Water-based automobile paints potentially reduce the exposure of refinish painters to toxic metals. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(5), 899. Scholar
  15. Jaradat, Q. M., Masadeh, A., Zaitoun, M. A., & Maitah, B. M. (2005). Heavy metal contamination of soil, plant and air of scrapyard of discarded vehicles at Zarqa City, Jordan. Soil and Sediment Contamination: An International Journal, 14, 449–462. Scholar
  16. Jensen, D. L., Holm, P. E., & Christensen, T. H. (2000). Soil and groundwater contamination with heavy metals at two scrap iron and metal recycling facilities. Waste Management & Research, 18(1), 52–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jones, R., & Burgess, M. S. E. (1984). Zinc and cadmium in soils and plants near electrical transmission (hydro). Environmental Science and Technology, 18, 731–734. Scholar
  18. Kabata-Pendias, A. (2010). Trace elements in soils and plants. CRC press. 505 p.Google Scholar
  19. Kamimura, T., Hara, S., Miyuki, H., Yamashita, M., & Uchida, H. (2006). Composition and protective ability of rust layer formed on weathering steel exposed to various environments. Corrosion Science, 48(9), 2799–2812. Scholar
  20. Lange, C. N., Figueiredo, A. M. G., Enzweiler, J., & Castro, L. (2017). Trace elements status in the terrain of an impounded vehicle scrapyard. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 311(2), 1323–1332. Scholar
  21. Liu, H., Probst, A., & Liao, B. (2005). Metal contamination of soils and crops affected by the Chenzhou lead/zinc mine spill (Hunan, China). Science of the Total Environment, 339, 153–166. Scholar
  22. Liu, H., Yan, Y., Chang, H., Chen, H., Liang, L., Liu, X., Qiang, X., & Sun, Y. (2019). Magnetic signatures of natural and anthropogenic sources of urban dust aerosol. Atmosphere Chemistry and Physics, 19, 731–745. Scholar
  23. Lu, S. G., & Bai, S. Q. (2006). Study on the correlation of magnetic properties and heavy metals content in urban soils of Hangzhou City, China. Journal of Applied Geophysics, 60(1), 1–12. Scholar
  24. Mancini, M., Weindorf, D. C., Chakraborty, S., Silva, S. H. G., Teixeira, A., Guilherme, L. R. G., & Curi, N. (2019). Tracing tropical soil parent material analysis via portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) spectrometry in Brazilian Cerrado. Geoderma, 337, 718–728. Scholar
  25. Marques, J. J., Schulze, D. G., Curi, N., & Mertzman, S. A. (2004). Trace element geochemistry in Brazilian Cerrado soils. Geoderma, 121(1–2), 31–43. Scholar
  26. Martín, A. C., Rivero, V. C., & Marín, M. L. (1998). Contamination by heavy metals in soils in the neighbourhood of a scrapyard of discarded vehicles. Science of the Total Environment, 212(2–3), 145–152.Google Scholar
  27. Meena, N. K., Maiti, S., & Shrivastava, A. (2011). Discrimination between anthropogenic (pollution) and lithogenic magnetic fraction in urban soils (Delhi, India) using environmental magnetism. Journal of Applied Geophysics, 73, 121–129. Scholar
  28. Mihankhah, T., Saeedi, M., & Karbassi, A. (2020). A comparative study of elemental pollution and health risk assessment in urban dust of different land-uses in Tehran’s urban area. Chemosphere, 241, 124984. Scholar
  29. Mineropar. (2005). Minerais do Paraná S.A. Geoquímica de solo - horizonte B: Relatório final de projeto. Curitiba: Mineropar.Google Scholar
  30. Morcelli, C. P. R., Figueiredo, A. M. G., Sarkis, J. E. S., Enzweiler, J., Kakazu, M., & Sigolo, J. B. (2005). PGEs and other traffic-related elements in roadside soils from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Science of the Total Environment, 345, 81–91. Scholar
  31. Müller, G. (1979). Schwermetalle in den sedimenten des RheinsVeranderungense it. UmschWiss Tech, 79, 778–783.Google Scholar
  32. Ossai, E. K. (2014). Heavy metal distribution in the vicinity of automobile scrap sites in Agbor, Nigeria. Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management, 18(2), 261–265. Scholar
  33. Poggere, G. C., Inda, A. V., Barrón, V., Kämpf, N., Brito, A. D. B., Barbosa, J. Z., & Curi, N. (2018a). Maghemite quantification and magnetic signature of Brazilian soils with contrasting parent materials. Applied Clay Science, 161, 385–394. Scholar
  34. Poggere, G. C., Melo, V. F., Serrat, B. M., Mangrich, A. S., França, A. A., Corrêa, R. S., & Barbosa, J. Z. (2018b). Clay mineralogy affects the efficiency of sewage sludge in reducing lead retention of soils. Journal of Environmental Sciences, 80, 45–57. Scholar
  35. Rust, M., Rafferty, M., & Ikeda, J. (1995). Automobile shredder residue report. Saint Paul: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.Google Scholar
  36. Scrap Metal Dealers Act. (2013). An Act to amend the law relating to scrap metal dealers; and for connected purposes. Chapter, 10, 2013 Accessed 14 June 2019.Google Scholar
  37. Silva, A. R., Souza Junior, I. G., & Costa, A. C. S. (2010). Suscetibilidade magnética do horizonte B de solos do estado do Paraná. Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo, 34, 329–338. Scholar
  38. Silva, S. H. G., Silva, E. A., Poggere, G. C., Guilherme, L. R. G., & Curi, N. (2018). Tropical soils characterization at low cost and time using portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (PXRF): Effects of different sample preparation methods. Ciência e Agrotecnologia, 42, 80–92. Scholar
  39. Sofilić, T., Bertić, B., Šimunić-Mežnarić, V., & Brnardić, I. (2013). Soil pollution as a result of temporary steel scrap storage at the melt shop. Ecologia Balkanica, 5(1), 21–30.Google Scholar
  40. Száková, J., Krýchová, M., & Tlustoš, P. (2016). The risk element contamination level in soil and vegetation at the former deposit of galvanic sludges. Journal of Soils and Sediments, 16(3), 924–938. Scholar
  41. Torrent, J., Liu, Q. S., & Barrón, V. (2010). Magnetic minerals in Calcic Luvisols (Chromic) developed in a warm mediterranean region of Spain: origin and paleoenvironmental significance. Geoderma, 154, 465–472. Scholar
  42. Zanello, S., Melo, V. F., & Nagata, N. (2018). Study of different environmental matrices to access the extension of metal contamination along highways. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 25(6), 5969–5979. Scholar
  43. Wan, M., Hu, W., Qu, M., Tian, K., Zhang, H., Wang, Y., & Huang, B. (2019). Application of arc emission spectrometry and portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry to rapid risk assessment of heavy metals in agricultural soils. Ecological Indicators, 101, 583–594. Scholar
  44. Wang, G., Liu, Y., Chen, J., Ren, F., Chen, Y., & Zhang, W. (2018). Magnetic evidence for heavy metal pollution of topsoil in Shanghai, China. Frontiers of Earth Sciences, 12, 125–133. Scholar
  45. Winther, M., & Slentø, E. (2010). Heavy metal emissions for Danish road transport (p. 103). Roskile, Denmark: National Environmental Research Institute.Google Scholar
  46. Yan, M., Wang, J., Han, E., & Ke, W. (2014). Role of Fe oxides in corrosion of pipeline steel in a red clay soil. Corrosion Science, 50, 1331–1339. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federal Institute of Southeast Minas GeraisBarbacenaBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Biological and Environmental SciencesFederal University of Technology – ParanáMedianeiraBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Soils and Agricultural EngineeringFederal University of ParanáCuritibaBrazil
  4. 4.Department of AgricultureAgricultural Research Service, National Soil Dynamics LaboratoryAuburnUSA
  5. 5.Department of SoilsFederal University of LavrasLavrasBrazil

Personalised recommendations