Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 67–94 | Cite as

A Geochemical Survey of Topsoil in the City of Oslo, Norway



The city of Oslo is situated centrally in the Oslo-graben, which is a Permian rift basin consisting of different kinds of volcanic and sedimentary rocks. In the summer of 1998, approximately 300 samples of surface soil (2–3 cm) were taken systematically, 1 km−2. The investigated area covers about 500 km2. Samples were dissolved in 7 M HNO3 and analysed for 29 elements with ICP-AES, mercury with cold-vapour technique (CV-AAS) and arsenic and cadmium with a graphite furnace (GF-AAS). A factor analysis is frequently used to identify relationships among sets of interrelated variables. To describe the covariant relationships among the elements, a factor analysis has been completed. The first factor contains the elements Sc, Fe, Li, Co, Al, Cr, Be, K, Ni, V, Mg, Y, Ba, Zr, Mn and As (listed with decreasing communality). These elements are typical for the minerals in the area and most of these elements have a near normal distribution. Sources for this factor are probably geological. The second factor contains Cd, Hg, P, Zn, Cu, Ba and Pb. They have a log-normal distribution. Road traffic is probably one of the sources contributing to this factor. In Norway studded tyres are used frequently in the winter season which results in large amounts of road dust. Leaded petrol has been a major source for Pb but is not in use any more. Wear and tear of tyres and brakes contribute also to this factor. Other sources contributing to this factor are probably industry, rubbish incineration, crematoria and release of some of these elements from structural material by fire. Factors 3, 4 and 6 with elements such as Ca, Na, La, Ti and Sr probably have geological sources. They are associated with minerals like amphiboles, pyroxenes and feldspars and some of the elements are from sea aerosols. Factor 5 contains Mn, Cd, Zn, As and Pb. Manganese may be derived from many different sources such as rock weathering, windblown dust, agriculture and traffic. Since As and Mn are placed in both factor 1 and 5 they probably have both geological and anthropogenic sources. Concentrations of the elements in the second factor are much higher in the central parts of Oslo, than in the rest of Oslo. The median value of Hg in the centre is 0.48 mg kg−1, which is 8 times higher than that in the rest of the city. Also, the other elements have much higher levels in the centre. The industrial district north-east of the centre also has high values. The distribution of arsenic is regular throughout the whole city, but has a slightly higher level in the centre. Norm values for contaminated land used by the Norwegian authorities are 2 mg As kg−1 and 25 mg Cr kg−1. Of 297 samples, 61% contain more than 25 mg Cr kg−1 and 79% more than 3 mg As kg−1, which is the detection limit of the analysis. These samples will therefore be regarded as contaminated. Factor analysis places these elements in the geological factor. The Norm value of zinc is 150 mg kg−1, and 40% of the samples contain more than this. The Norm value of lead is 150 mg kg−1, and 35% of the samples contain. Road traffic is probably the major source for these elements.

geochemistry heavy metals pollution urban soils 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNUTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Geological Survey of Norway, NGUTrondheimNorway

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