Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 23, pp 22606–22618 | Cite as

Contamination levels and health risk assessments of heavy metals in an oasis-desert zone: a case study in northwest China

  • Qingyu Guan
  • Na Song
  • Feifei Wang
  • Liqin Yang
  • Zeyu Liu
Research Article


Rapid and extensive social and economic development has caused severe soil contamination by heavy metals in China. The spatial distribution, pollution levels, and health risks of metals were identified in an oasis-desert zone of northwest China. The mean concentrations of six heavy metals exceeded their corresponding background contents, and each metal concentration in farmland samples was higher than that in Gobi samples. Moreover, these heavy metals followed a similar spatial pattern and showed significant positive correlations with each other, indicating that they have the same sources. The contamination features of heavy metals and ecological risks were calculated using several quality indicators, and their health risks for population groups were quantified. The results showed that the Gobi and farmland soils were uncontaminated to moderately contaminated by heavy metals, and that farmland pollution was more serious than that of Gobi. The Gobi and farmland soils posed low ecological risks. As a whole, the non-carcinogenic risk which was caused by heavy metals was low for local residents, and the carcinogenic risk was within an acceptable level. Comparatively speaking, children were the more vulnerable population to health risks. The Zn and Cu pollution was relatively serious, and Cr and V were major contributors to health risks.

Graphical abstract


Oasis-desert zone Heavy metals Pollution level Health risk assessments 



We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the editors and reviewers who have put considerable time and effort into their comments on this paper. We are grateful to the professional editing service (Elsevier Language Editing Services) for improving the language of our manuscript. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41671188).

Supplementary material

11356_2018_2015_MOESM1_ESM.docx (47 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 47 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qingyu Guan
    • 1
  • Na Song
    • 1
  • Feifei Wang
    • 1
  • Liqin Yang
    • 1
  • Zeyu Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental SciencesLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina

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