Accumulation of PAHs of the soils and assessment of their health risks at a village with plastic manufacturing in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, Southeast China

  • Xinzhe Lu
  • Anqing Gu
  • Yanwu Zhang
  • Xianyao Chu
  • Xue-Feng HuEmail author
Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article



Accumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil had drawn increasing attention for their potential toxic effects on human health and ecological system. This work tried to probe into a possible link between the accumulation of PAHs in soil and a high incident of cancer at a plastic-manufacturing village in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, Southeast China.

Materials and methods

Eight soil samples were collected nearby two plastic-processing plants at the village. The samples were air dried and stored at 4 °C for chemical analyses. Sixteen monomers of PAHs in the samples, listed as the precedently controlled pollutants by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), were analyzed using the gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. A model of incremental lifetime cancer risks (ILCRs) specified by USEPA were used to assess their health risks.

Results and discussion

The total concentrations of precedent-controlled 16 PAHs in the soils are in a range of 2.3–366.4 ng g−1, with an average of 129.03 ng g−1. Those of seven carcinogenic PAHs are in a range of 0–123.9 ng g−1, with 58.46 ng g−1 on average. The concentrations of PAHs in the soils were much higher nearby the plastic-processing plants. The ILCRs of adults and children who are exposed to PAHs in the soil through oral intake and skin touch are in a range of 10−8 ~ 10−5.


The soils nearby the plastic-processing plants have higher contents of PAHs. The PAHs are dominated by middle- and higher-ring monomers, suggesting the origin of high-temperature combustion. The ratios of specific monomers also indicated that PAHs in the soils mostly originate from plastic manufacturing. A cancer risk of adults from PAH exposure in the soil through oral intake and skin touch attains a potential level. That of children can never be ignored. It proves that a high incidence of cancer in the study areas is correlated with the industrial emissions of PAHs from the plastic plants.


Health risks PAHs Plastic processing Soil 


Funding information

The research was supported by the financial fund from Zhejiang Province in China (No. 2016009-07 and No.2019007) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41877005) and the research grants from the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (No. 17 DZ1202300) and the Agriculture Research System of Shanghai, China (Grant No. 201909).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, School of Environmental and Chemical EngineeringShanghai UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Zhejiang Institute of Geological SurveyHangzhouChina

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