Heavy metals pollution in the soils of suburban areas in big cities: a case study

  • H. Taghipour
  • M. Mosaferi
  • F. Armanfar
  • S. J. Gaemmagami
Original Paper


Soil pollution in agricultural areas surrounding big cities is a major environmental problem. Tabriz is the largest city in the northwest of Iran and the fourth largest city in the country. Soil samples were taken from 46 sites in the suburbs of the Tabriz city, and separate samples were taken from control site and analyzed. The results indicated that the mean pH value of the soil samples was 9.29, while the mean EC value was 354.33 μs/cm and the amount of TOC and TOM was 0.99 and 1.7 %, respectively. The mean concentrations of Cd, Pb, Cu, Cr, Ni, and Zn in the soil were determined to be 1.61, 10.56, 101.25, 87.40, 38.73, and 98.27 mg/kg, respectively (dry weight). The concentrations of heavy metals (Cd, Pb, Cu, Cr, and Zn), with the exception of Ni, were higher than the concentrations of the same heavy metals at the control site. Despite these elevated concentrations, the concentrations of heavy metals were lower than the toxicity threshold limit of agricultural soils. The values of the pollution index revealed that the metal pollution level was Pb > Cr > Cu > Zn > Cd > Ni, and the mean value of the integrated pollution index was determined to be 1.81, indicating moderate pollution. Nevertheless, there were some sites that were severely polluted by Cr (maximum values of 1,364 mg/kg). It was concluded that city probably has affected the surrounding agricultural area. Application of wastewater (municipal and industrial) as irrigation water, using of sludge as soil fertilizer, and atmospheric perceptions have been considered as main reasons of increased heavy metals concentrations found in the studied area.


Agricultural area Assessment Heavy metals Soil 



This study was funded by the research deputy, National Public Health Management Center (NPMC) and the Nutrition Research Center of the Tabriz University of Medical Science. The authors wish to thank all of the members of the survey team who participated in the study.


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Copyright information

© CEERS, IAU 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Taghipour
    • 1
  • M. Mosaferi
    • 2
  • F. Armanfar
    • 3
  • S. J. Gaemmagami
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Tabriz Health Services Management Research Center and Nutrition Research CenterTabriz University of Medical SciencesTabrizIran
  2. 2.Tabriz Health Services Management Research Center, Department of Environmental Health EngineeringTabriz University of Medical SciencesTabrizIran
  3. 3.Regional Water Organization of East Azerbaijan ProvinceTabrizIran
  4. 4.Nutrition Research Center and Department of Nutrition, Biochemistry and Diet TherapyTabriz University of Medical SciencesTabrizIran

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