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Assessment of heavy metal pollution risks and enzyme activity of meadow soils in urban area under tourism load: a case study from Zakopane (Poland)


Effect of tourism, especially skiing activities, and urbanization on chemical and biochemical properties of soils in touristy town—Zakopane—was investigated. The concentration of heavy metals, nutrients, soil organic matter (SOM), dehydrogenase (DHA), invertase (IA) and urease (Ure) activities in soils from the town centre and out of the town centre was compared with the respective values of adjacent soils in protected areas (TNP). In order to evaluate a degree of contamination and risks of degradation enrichment factor (EF), ecological risk index (RI), Nemerov Pollution Index (PINemerov) as well as enzyme activity index (EAI) were calculated. Soils in the centre of Zakopane were polluted with Zn, Pb, Cd and Cu in a moderate degree when those of skiing areas were polluted with Pb and Cd in a high degree. Strong positive correlation between these metals and negative correlation between them and a distance from the main roundabout in town indicated their anthropogenic origin. Soils of both locations were also enriched in P, but depleted in SOM when compared to TNP soils. Soils of touristy areas (out of the centre) were additionally enriched in N. Activity of studied enzymes was also lowered in soils of Zakopane when compared to soils of TNP. Pollution indices, RI, PINemerov as well as EAI, indicated that soils of Zakopane are at risk of degradation. Soils of touristy areas are under stronger negative impact than soils of the centre because of the cumulative effect of transport of heavy metals from the city centre, pollution by skiing machinery and melting water from the artificial snow.

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This Research was financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Poland (DS-3138/IGiA/17).

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Correspondence to Krystyna Ciarkowska.

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Responsible editor: Zhihong Xu

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Ciarkowska, K. Assessment of heavy metal pollution risks and enzyme activity of meadow soils in urban area under tourism load: a case study from Zakopane (Poland). Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 13709–13718 (2018).

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  • Tourism
  • Urbanization
  • Heavy metal pollution
  • Enzyme activities
  • Pollution indices