Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 1615–1627 | Cite as

Spatial distribution of heavy metal concentrations in peri-urban soils in eastern China

  • Shoujuan Li
  • Lei YangEmail author
  • Liding Chen
  • Fangkai Zhao
  • Long Sun
Research Article


Complex land use patterns and intense human activities significantly affect the spatial distribution of heavy metals in soils. This is especially true in peri-urban areas. The land use in peri-urban areas is complex and the risk of heavy metal pollution is relatively high. Identifying the correlations between land use patterns and spatial distribution of heavy metals in peri-urban soils is important for enhancing soil security and sustaining soil ecosystem services in areas undergoing rapid urbanisation. In this study, soil samples were collected from 82 experimental sites in a typical peri-urban watershed in eastern China. Copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), cadmium (Cd), nickel (Ni), arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), lead (Pb) and mercury (Hg) concentrations at different soil depths were analysed. Results showed that heavy metal concentrations in peri-urban soils were significantly affected by land use type and varied with soil depth. Farmland had the highest heavy metal concentrations, whereas forestland had the lowest concentrations; the concentrations in soils decreased with increasing soil depth. Spatial analysis of heavy metals in soils showed that their concentrations rapidly increased with the increasing percentage of town areas in buffer zones. This indicated that land use structure influenced the heavy metal concentrations in peri-urban soils and the influences were correlated to the locations of towns and villages. Correlation analysis showed that Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb and Hg concentrations in soils were significantly affected by altitude, distance from roads, distance from towns and villages and soil clay content. Interestingly, historic land use was also found to affect heavy metal concentrations in forestland. These results can provide scientific guidance for designing effective soil management practices for peri-urban areas.


Heavy metals Peri-urban Land use Human activities Spatial variability 


Funding information

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41571130064 and 41701018) and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of Chinese Academy of Sciences (2018057).


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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