Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 148–158 | Cite as

Impacts of urbanization and landscape patterns on the accumulation of heavy metals in soils in residential areas in Beijing

  • Tian Xie
  • Meie Wang
  • Weiping Chen
  • Herman Uwizeyimana
Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article



In metropolitan cities, residential land use is most closely related to inhabitants’ daily life among all land use types. The aim of this study is to determine the influence of urbanization and landscape attributes on heavy metal accumulation in urban residential areas.

Materials and methods

Soil samples under different vegetative cover types were collected from 115 residential areas of Beijing. Samples were digested using a four-acid mixture (HCl, HNO3, HF, and HClO4). We analyzed contents of nine elements, including Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, V, and Zn. Meanwhile, urbanization and landscape information, including age of residential community, distance to the city center, population density, distance to the nearest building, height of the building, and green space area, were recorded at each sampling site. Statistical analytic tools and geospatial analysis techniques were employed to further examine the relationship between urbanization and landscape indicators and accumulation of heavy metals in urban residential soils.

Results and discussion

Our results revealed that Cu, Cd, Pb, and Zn were the most accumulated heavy metals in the study area. Their mean concentrations were 23.5, 0.139, 27.3, and 96.2 mg/kg, respectively. The spatial distribution of heavy metal accumulation was also analyzed. Urbanization indicators, including age of residential community, distance to the city center, population density, and distance from sampling point to the nearest residential building, were found significantly correlated with the contents of Cu, Cd, Pb, and Zn in residential soils. However, height of the residential building and green space area had little impact on intercepting air pollutants and lowering the heavy metal concentration in residential soils. Moreover, different vegetative types were found to have significant influence on the heavy metal accumulation. Arbor was more efficient than other types in capturing atmospheric suspended particulates which contain heavy metals.


In this study, we identified Cu, Cd, Pb, and Zn as the most accumulated heavy metals, illustrated the spatial distribution characteristics of heavy metal accumulation, and further elaborated the influence of urbanization and landscape patterns, as well as the vegetative cover types on the heavy metal accumulation. The accumulations of Cu, Pb, and Zn in urban residential soils were probably dependent on atmospheric deposition.


Heavy metal Residential areas Spatial patterns Urbanization Vegetation 



We acknowledge the financial support of the Natural key R&D Program of China (2017YFC0505702), the Natural Science Foundation of China (41601556), and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (QYZDB-SSW-DQC034).

Supplementary material

11368_2018_2011_MOESM1_ESM.png (12.2 mb)
Fig. S1 Six vegetative cover categories investigated in residential areas in Beijing (PNG 12.2 mb)
11368_2018_2011_MOESM2_ESM.png (2.1 mb)
Fig. S2 (a) Regression analysis between heavy mental concentrations and construction ages. (b). Regression analysis between heavy mental concentrations and distance to the city center. (c). Regression analysis between heavy mental concentrations and population density. (d). Regression analysis between heavy mental concentrations and distance to the residential building (PNG 2.13 mb)
11368_2018_2011_MOESM3_ESM.png (2.7 mb)
Fig. S3 Geochemical maps correlating the spatial distribution of heavy metals with the spatial pattern of distance to the city center. (PNG 2.74 mb)
11368_2018_2011_MOESM4_ESM.png (2.7 mb)
Fig. S4 Geochemical maps correlating the spatial distribution of heavy metals with the spatial pattern of population density (PNG 2.71 mb)
11368_2018_2011_MOESM5_ESM.png (2.8 mb)
Fig. S5 Geochemical maps correlating the spatial distribution of heavy metals with the spatial pattern of distance to the nearest building (PNG 2.76 mb)
11368_2018_2011_MOESM6_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Table S1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tian Xie
    • 1
    • 2
  • Meie Wang
    • 1
  • Weiping Chen
    • 1
  • Herman Uwizeyimana
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory for Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesHuairouChina

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