Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 1514–1526 | Cite as

Origin and spatial distribution of metals in urban soils

  • Andrés Rodríguez-Seijo
  • María Luisa Andrade
  • Flora A. Vega
Phytoremediation of Polluted Soils: Recent Progress and Developments



This study assessed soils from 36 parks and gardens (Vigo City, NW of Spain) where there are different degrees of traffic intensity and activity.

Materials and methods

The soils were characterised, and the content of Ba, Ca, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Na, Ni, Pb, Si, Sr and Zn was analysed. Further assessment determined the geoaccumulation index, enrichment factor and the contamination degree by metals with adverse effects on human health and environmental quality.

Results and discussion

The results reveal the existence of a moderate degree of contamination by Ba, Pb and Cu, which contribute the most to soil contamination due to the influence of industrial areas and main transport routes. Correlation and cluster analyses suggest that the metals included in the study have three possible origins: “natural” (Na and Si), “mixed” (two groups with different source intensity: Ca and Sr and Cr, Fe, Mg, Mn and Ni) and two possible “urban” sources: traffic (Cu, Pb, Zn) and mixed (Ba).


None of the soils can be classified as strongly contaminated but more than 61 % of the moderate contamination degree determined in the studied soils is explained by the Ba, Cu and Pb contents.


Enrichment factor Geoaccumulation Pollution Metals Sources Urban soil 



We thank the Xunta de Galicia for funding project EM2013/018. F.A. Vega is hired under a Ramón y Cajal contract at the University of Vigo. A. Rodríguez-Seijo would like to thank the University of Vigo for his pre-doctoral fellowship (P.P. 00VI 131H 64102) and would like to thank the Concello de Vigo (Spain) for their help in collecting samples.

Compliance with ethical standards

This research does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interest.

Supplementary material

11368_2015_1304_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (389 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 389 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrés Rodríguez-Seijo
    • 1
  • María Luisa Andrade
    • 1
  • Flora A. Vega
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant Biology and Soil ScienceUniversidade de VigoVigoSpain

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