Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 14, pp 13382–13395 | Cite as

The ecological risk, source identification, and pollution assessment of heavy metals in road dust: a case study in Rafsanjan, SE Iran

  • Milad Mirzaei Aminiyan
  • Mohammed Baalousha
  • Rouhollah Mousavi
  • Farzad Mirzaei Aminiyan
  • Hamideh Hosseini
  • Amin Heydariyan
Ecotoxicology in Tropical Regions


Heavy metal (HM) contamination in road dust is a potential environmental and human health threat. The sources, concentrations, spatial distribution, and ecological risk of As, Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Zn in road dust in Rafsanjan City, Iran, were investigated. Pollution was assessed using the enrichment factor (EF). The potentially harmful effects of HMs were evaluated by calculating the potential ecological risk factor of individual metals (E r ) and of multiple metals (RI) using the Hakanson method. Correlation and principal component analyses (PCA) were applied to identify HM pollution sources. The concentrations of HMs in road dust were higher (ca. 5–10 folds) than their natural background values. The EF and E r increased according to the following order Cu > Pb > As > Zn > Cd > Cr > Ni and Cu > Cd > Pb > As > Ni > Zn > Cr, respectively. Thus, Cu is regarded as the pollutant of highest concern. Based on potential ecological risk index (RI) spatial distribution, all parts of Rafsanjan are characterized by significantly high potential ecological risk. HM concentration heat maps, PCA, and correlation analysis suggest that Cu, Pb, As, Cd, and Zn may have originated from the same source and follow the same spatial distribution pattern. These metals originated mainly from anthropogenic sources like copper mining and smelting plants, industrial and chemical activities, inordinate application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in farmlands, and heavy traffic. Ni and Cr are likely to origniate from the industrial activities and traffic load in Rafsanjan City.


Road dust Heavy metals Ecological risk Rafsanjan Pollution 



The authors thank the students Meysam Akhoondi and Moein Hassani for their sampling and lab work. We declare that we have no financial and personal relationships with other people or organizations that can inappropriately influence our work, and there is no professional or other personal interest of any nature or kind in any product, service, and/or company that could be construed as influencing the position presented in, or the review of, the manuscript entitled, “Ecological risk, pollution level and source identification of heavy metals in road and street dust: a case study in Rafsanjan, SE Iran”. The authors also express their thanks to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that helped in improving the paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Soil Science Department, College of Agriculture, Bu-Ali Sina UniversityHamedanIran
  2. 2.Center for Environmental Nanoscience and Risk, Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Soil Science Department, College of AgricultureTehran UniversityTehranIran
  4. 4.Civil Engineering Department, College of EngineeringVali-e-Asr Rafsanjan UniversityRafsanjanIran
  5. 5.Soil Science Department, College of AgricultureVali-e-Asr Rafsanjan UniversityRafsanjanIran

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