Source identification and ecological risk assessment of some heavy metals in surface soils collected from the vicinity of Arad-Kouh processing and disposal complex, Tehran, Iran

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of the Environment, College of Basic Sciences, Hamedan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Hamedan, Iran

2 Department of the Environment, Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, Malayer University, Malayer, Iran


Introduction: Heavy metals are the common pollutants of soils, which pose a potential threat to the public and particularly children's health. Therefore, this study was conducted to assess the source identification and potential ecological risk of Fe, Zn, Pb, Cd, Cr, and Ni in surface soils collected from the vicinity of Arad-Kouh processing and disposal complex, Tehran, Iran in 2020.
Material and methods: In this descriptive study, a total of 30 surface soil samples were collected from 10 sampling sites. After acid digestion of soil samples, the element contents were determined using ICP-OES. Also, pollution indices, potential ecological risk were computed. Moreover, principal component analyses (PCA) and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) were performed to find out the contamination sources and distinguish the different groups of analyzed elements from different sources, respectively. Furthermore, all statistical analyses were performed by SPSS software.
Results and discussion: Based on the results, the mean content of elements in soil specimens (mg/kg) was 26651.6 for Fe, 71.7 for Zn, 27.7 for Pb, 1.22 for Cd, 22.3 for Cr, and 32.8 for Ni. On the other hand, the soil quality of the study area varied between 'minor enrichment' to 'moderately severe enrichment' based on the enrichment factor (EF) values, between 'low contamination' to 'high contamination' based on the pollution index (PI) values, and between 'unpolluted' to 'moderately polluted' based on the geo-accumulation index (I-geo) values and also showed 'moderate degree of contamination' based on the degree of contamination (DC) values. The computed values of Er showed that the potential ecological risk of Zn, Pb, Cr, and Ni was low and for Cd was moderate. Also, as the mean value of RI was 170.9, all the examined elements could be classified as a moderate ecological risk. The results of Pearson correlation coefficient, I-geo, PI, and IPI in accordance with PCA and HCA indicated that Zn, Cd, Cr, and Ni were originated from anthropogenic sources, while, Pb had a lithogenic origin.
Conclusion: Although the studied elements had moderate potential ecological risk, since the Cd with 93.3% of the mean RI values showed a higher potential environmental risk compared to other elements, therefore, source identification and source control of this element with potentially adverse effects on humans and also environmental health is recommended.


Aghelan, N., Sobhanardakani, S., Cheraghi, M., Lorestani, B. and Merrikhpour, H., 2020. Evaluation of chelating agents with different biodegradability rates on the enhanced phytoremediation efficiency of ornamental species (Amaranthus caudatus and Tagetes patula) in cadmium contaminated soils. Journal of Environmental Health Engineering. 7(4), 427–442. (In Persian).
Algül F. and Beyhan, M., 2020. Concentrations and sources of heavy metals in shallow sediments in Lake Bafa, Turkey. Scientific Reports. 10, 11782.
Ali, M.H., Mustafa, A-RA. and El-Sheikh, A.A., 2016. Geochemistry and spatial distribution of selected heavy metals in surface soil of Sohag, Egypt: a multivariate statistical and GIS Approach. Environmental Earth Sciences. 75, 1257.
Amouei, A., Cherati, A. and Naghipour, D., 2018. Heavy metals contamination and risk assessment of surface soils of Babol in northern Iran. Health Scope. 7, e62423.
Azimzadeh, B. and Khademi, H., 2013. Estimation of background concentration of selected heavy metals for pollution assessment of surface soils of Mazandaran Province, Iran. Journal of Water and Soil. 27, 548–559. (In Persian).
Benhaddya, M.L. and Hadjel, M., 2014. Spatial distribution and contamination assessment of heavy metals in surface soils of Hassi Messaoud, Algeria. Environmental Earth Sciences. 71, 1473–1486.
Cai, L., Xu, Z., Bao, P., He, M., Dou, L., Chen, L., Zhou, Y. and Zhu, Y-G., 2015. Multivariate and geostatistical analyses of the spatial distribution and source of arsenic and heavy metals in the agricultural soils in Shunde, Southeast China. Journal of Geochemical Exploration. 148, 189–195.
Chen, T-B., Zheng, Y-M., Lei, M., Huang, Z-C., Wu, H-T., Chen, H., Fan, K-K., Yu, K., Wu, X. and Tian, Q-Z., 2005. Assessment of heavy metal pollution in surface soils of urban parks in Beijing, China. Chemosphere. 60, 542–551.
Chen, T., Liu, X., Zhu, M., Zhao, K., Wu, J., Xu, J. and Huang, P., 2008. Identification of trace element sources and associated risk assessment in vegetable soils of the urban–rural transitional area of Hangzhou, China. Environmental Pollution. 151, 67–78.
Curran-Cournane, F., Lear, G., Schwendenmann, L. and Khin, J., 2015. Heavy metal soil pollution is influenced by the location of green spaces within urban settings. Soil Research. 53(3), 306–315.
R., Sobhanardakani, S., Cheraghi, M., Abdi, N. and Lorestani, B., 2019. Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) as a potential bioindicator for detection of toxic and essential elements in the environment (Case study: Markazi Province, Iran). Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 77(3), 344–358. Ebo Duncan, A., de Vries, N. and Biritwum Nyarko, K., 2018. Assessment of heavy metal pollution in the sediments of the River Pra and its tributaries. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution. 229(8), 272.
El-Gammal, M.I., Ibrahim, M.S., El-Sonbati, M.A. and El-Zeiny, A.M., 2011. Assessment of heavy metal contamination on street dust at New Damietta City, Egypt. Journal of Environmental Sciences. 40(2), 221–237.
Ersoy, A. and Yünsel, T.Y., 2018. The assessment of soil contamination by heavy metals using geostatistical sequential Gaussian simulation method. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment. 24(8), 2142–2161.
Farzan, M. and Sobhanardakani, S., 2016. Analysis of Fe, Pb, and Cd content of surface runoff in regions with high traffic intensity in Hamedan, Iran, in 2014. Journal of Health System Research. 12(2), 208– 213. (Persian).
Gee, G.W. and Bauder, J.W., 1986. Particle-size Analysis, Methods of Soil Analysis Part I, Physical and Mineralogical Methods. American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science Society of America, p: 383-411.
Gerritse, R.G. and Driel, W.V., 1984. The relationship between adsorption of trace metals, organic matter, and pH in temperate soils. Journal of Environmental Quality. 13, 197–204.
Gholamalifard, M., Phillips, J. and Jalili Ghazizade, M., 2017. Evaluation of unmitigated options for municipal waste disposal site in Tehran, Iran using an integrated assessment approach. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. 60(5), 792–820.
Gonzáles-Macías, C., Schifter, I., Lluch-Cota, D.B., Méndez-Rodríguez, L. and Hernández Vázquez, S., 2006. Distribution, enrichment and accumulation of heavy metals in coastal sediments of Salina Cruz Bay, Mexico. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 118, 211–230.
Hakanson, L., 1980. An ecological risk index for aquatic pollution control- A sedimentological approach. Water Research. 14(8), 975–1001.
Han, Y.M., Du, P.X., Cao, J.J. and Posmentier, E.S., 2006. Multivariate analysis of heavy metal contamination in urban dusts of Xi’an, Central China. Science of the Total Environment. 355, 176–186.
Hazratzadeh, Sh. and Sobhanardakani, S., 2018. Assessment of Zn, Pb, Cd, and Cu contamination in surface soils of urban parks in city of Hamedan. Iranian Journal of Soil Research. 32(3), 399–413. (In Persian).
Hosseini, S.V., Sobhanardakani, S., Kolangi Miandare, H., Harsij, M. and Regenstein, J.M., 2015. Determination of toxic (Pb, Cd) and essential (Zn, Mn) metals in canned tuna fish produced in Iran. Journal of Environmental Health Science and Engineering. 13, 59.
Hu, Y., Wang, D., Wei, L. and Song, B., 2014. Heavy metal contamination of urban topsoils in a typical region of Loess Plateau, China. Journal of Soils and Sediments. 14, 928–935.
Iwegbue, C.M.A., Oliseyenum, E.C. and Martincigh, B.S., 2017. Spatio-temporal distribution of metals in household dust from rural, semi-urban and urban environments in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. 24, 14040–14059.
Ju, Y.R., Chen, W.Y. and Liao, C.M., 2012. Assessing human exposure risk to cadmium through inhalation and seafood consumption. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 227–228, 353–361.
Kanmani, S. and Gandhimathi, R., 2013. Assessment of heavy metal contamination in soil due to leachate migration from an open dumping site. Applied Water Science. 3, 193–205.
Kelepertsis, A., Alexakis, D. and Kita, I., 2001. Environmental geochemistry of soils and waters of Susaki Area, Korinthos, Greece. Environmental Geochemistry and Health. 23(2), 117–135.
Li, H., Qian, X., Hu, W., Wang, Y. and Gao, H., 2013. Chemical speciation and human health risk of trace metals in urban street dusts from a metropolitan city, Nanjing, SE China. Science of the Total Environment. 456–457, 212–221.
Li, X., Zhang, S. and Yang, M., 2014. Accumulation and risk assessment of heavy metals in dust in main living areas of Guiyang City, Southwest China. Chinese Journal of Geochemistry. 33(3), 272–276.
Liao, Q.L., Liu, C., Wu, H.Y., Jin, Y., Hua, M., Zhu, B.W., Chen, K. and Huang, L., 2015. Association of soil cadmium contamination with ceramic industry: a case study in a Chinese town. Science of the Total Environment. 514, 26–32.
Loska, K., Wiechula, D. and Korus, I., 2004. Metal contamination of farming soils affected by industry. Environment International. 30, 159–165.
Lu, X., Wang, L., Li, L.Y., Lei, K., Huang, L. and Kang, D., 2010. Multivariate statistical analysis of heavy metals in street dust of Baoji, NW China. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 173, 744–749.
Lu, X.W., Zhang, X.L., Li, L.Y. and Chen, H., 2014. Assessment of metals pollution and health risk in dust from nursery schools in Xi'an, China. Environmental Research. 128, 27–34.
Makuleke, P. and Ngole-Jeme, V.M., 2020. Soil heavy metal distribution with depth around a closed landfill and their uptake by Datura stramonium. Applied and Environmental Soil Science. 2020, ID 8872475.
Majlessi, M., Zamanzadeh, M., Alavi, N., Amanidaz, N. and Bakhshoodeh, R., 2019. Generation rates and current management of municipal, construction and demolition waste in Tehran. Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management. 21, 191–200.
Mazloomi, S., Esmaeili-Sari, A., Bahramifar, N. and Moeinaddini, M., 2017. Assessment of the metals and metalloids level in street dust of the east and west of Tehran. Iranian Journal of Health and Environment. 10, 281–292. (In Persian).
McKenzie, E.R., Money, J.E., Green, P.G. and Young, T.M., 2009. Metals associated with stormwater-relevant brake and tire samples. Science of the Total Environment. 407(22), 5855–5860.
Mirzaei, R., Ghorbani, H., Hafezi Moghaddas, N. and Rodríguez Martín, J.A., 2014. Ecological risk of heavy metal hotspots in topsoils in the Province of Golestan, Iran. Journal of Geochemical Exploration. 147, 268–276.
Moaref, S., Sekhavatjou, M.S. and Hosseini Alhashemi, A., 2014. Determination of trace elements concentration in wet and dry atmospheric deposition and surface soil in the largest industrial city, Southwest of Iran. International Journal of Environmental Research. 8(2), 335–346.
Mohammadi, M.J., Yari, A.R., Saghazadeh, M., Sobhanardakani, S., Geravandi, S., Afkar, A., Salehi, S.Z., Valipour, A., Biglari, H., Hosseini, S.A., Rastegarimehr, B., Vosoughi, M. and Omidi Khaniabadi, Y., 2018. A health risk assessment of heavy metals in people consuming Sohan in Qom, Iran. Toxin Reviews. 37, 278–286.
Mohammad Moradi, B., Sobhanardakani, S. and Cheraghi, M., 2018. Ecological risk of heavy metals in surface soils of urban parks. Iranian Journal of Health and Environment. 10(4), 429–442. (In Persian).
Mohammadi Roozbahani, M., Sobhanardakani, S., Karimi, H. and Sorooshnia, R., 2015. Natural and anthropogenic source of heavy metals pollution in the soil samples of an industrial complex; a case study. Iranian Journal of Toxicology. 9(29), 1336–1341.
Muhammad, S., Tahir Shah, M. and Khan, S., 2011. Health risk assessment of heavy metals and their source apportionment in drinking water of Kohistan region, northern Pakistan. Microchemical Journal. 98(2), 334–343.
Muhammad, B.G., Suhaimi Jaafar, M., Abdul Rahman, A. and Abdulrasheed Ingawa, F., 2012. Determination of radioactive elements and heavy metals in sediments and soil from domestic water sources in northern peninsular Malaysia. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 184, 5043–5049.
Muller, G., 1969. Index of geoaccumulation in sediments of the Rhine River. Journal of Geology. 2, 108–118.
Naderizadeh, Z., Khademi, H. and Ayoibi, S., 2016 Biomonitoring of atmospheric heavy metals pollution using dust deposited on date palm leaves in southwestern Iran. Atmósfera. 29(2), 141–155.
Qu, M., Li, W. and Zhang, C., 2013. Assessing the risk costs in delineating soil nickel contamination using sequential Gaussian simulation and transfer functions. Ecological Informatics. 13, 99–105.
Sabet Aghlidi, P., Cheraghi, M., Lorestani, B., Sobhanardakani, S. and Merrikhpour, H., 2020. Analysis, spatial distribution and ecological risk assessment of arsenic and some heavy metals of agricultural soils, Case study: South of Iran. Journal of Environmental Health Science and Engineering. 18(2), 665–676.
Sabzevari, E. and Sobhanardakani, S., 2018. Analysis of selected heavy metals in indoor dust collected from city of Khorramabad, Iran: A case study. Jundishapur Journal of Health Sciences. 10, e67382.
Sadeghdoust, F., Ghanavati, N., Nazarpour, A., Babaenejad, T. and Watts, M.J., 2020. Hazard, ecological, and human health risk assessment of heavy metals in street dust in Dezful, Iran. Arabian Journal of Geosciences. 13, 881.
Saeedi, M., Li, L.Y. and Salmanzadeh, M., 2012. Heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: Pollution and ecological risk assessment in street dust of Tehran. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 227– 228, 9–17.
Shang, Z., Ren, J., Tao, L. and Wang, X., 2015. Assessment of heavy metals in surface sediments from Gansu section of Yellow River, China. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 187, 79.
Shokri Ragheb, P. and Sobhanardakani, S., 2016. Analysis of Co, Cr and Mn concentrations in atmospheric dry deposition in Hamadan City. Scientific Journal of Hamadan University of Medical Sciences. 23(2), 149–156. (In Persian).
Sobhanardakani, S., 2018a. Human health risk assessment of Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn through consumption of raw and pasteurized cow's milk. Iranian Journal of Public Health. 47(8), 1172–1180.
Sobhanardakani, S., 2018b. Assessment of Pb and Ni contamination in the topsoil of ring roads’ green spaces in the city of Hamedan. Pollution. 4(1), 43–51.
Sobhanardakani, S., 2019. Ecological and human health risk assessment of heavy metals content of atmospheric dry deposition, a case study: Kermanshah, Iran. Biological Trace Element Research. 187(2), 602–610.
Sobhanardakani, S. and Jafari, S.M., 2014. Assessment of heavy metals (Cu, Pb and Zn) in different tissues of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) caught from Shirinsu Wetland, Western Iran. Journal of Chemical Health Risks. 4(2), 47–54.
Sobhanardakani, S., Jamali, M. and Maànijou, M., 2014. Evaluation of As, Zn, Cr and Mn concentrations in groundwater resources of Razan Plain and preparing the zoning map using GIS. Journal of Environmental Science and Technology. 16(2), 25–38. (In Persian).
Sobhanardakani, S. and Jamshidi, K., 2015. Assessment of metals (Co, Ni and Zn) content in the sediments of Mighan Wetland using geo-accumulation index. Iranian Journal of Toxicology. 9(30), 1386 –1390.
Sobhanardakani, S., Maanijou, M. and Asadi, H., 2015. Investigation of Pb, Cd, Cu and Mg concentrations in groundwater resources of Razan Plain. Scientific Journal of Hamadan University of Medical Sciences. 21(4), 319–329. (In Persian).
Sobhanardakani, S. and Ghoochian, M., 2016. Analysis of heavy metals in surface sediments from Agh Gel Wetland, Iran. Iranian Journal of Toxicology. 34, 41–46.
Soliman, N.F., Nasr, S.M. and Okbah, M.A., 2015. Potential ecological risk of heavy metals in sediments from the Mediterranean coast, Egypt. Journal of Environmental Health Science and Engineering. 13,70.
Sutherland, R.A., 2000. Bed sediment-associated trace metals in an urban stream, Oahu, Hawaii. Environmental Geology. 39, 611–627.
Tokalıog, S. and Kartal, S., 2006. Multivariate analysis of the data and speciation of heavy metals in street dust samples from the Organized Industrial District in Kayseri (Turkey). Atmospheric Environment. 40, 2797–2805.
Turekian, K.K. and Wedepohl, K.H., 1961. Distribution of the elements in some major units of the earth’s crust. Geological Society of America Bulletin. 72, 175–192.
Tytła, M. and Kostecki, M., 2019. Ecological risk assessment of metals and metalloid in bottom sediments of water reservoir located in the key anthropogenic “hot spot” area (Poland). Environmental Earth Sciences. 78, 179.
Wang, J., Liu, G.J. and Fang, T., 2013. Assessment of pollution characteristics? of heavy metals in the sediments of Huaihe River (Anhui section) by pollution load index. Journal of University of Science and Technology of China. 43, 97–103.
Yang, Y., Mei, Y., Zhang, C., Zhang, R., Liao, X. and Liu, Y., 2016a. Heavy metal contamination in surface soils of the industrial district of Wuhan, China. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment. 22(1), 126–140.
Yang, L.I.U., Zongwei, M.A., Jianshu, L.V. and Jun, B.I., 2016b. Identifying sources and hazardous risks of heavy metals in topsoils of rapidly urbanizing East China. Journal of Geographical Sciences. 26(6), 735–749.
Zanor, G.A., García, M.G., Venegas-Aguilera, L.E., Saldaña-Robles, A., Saldaña-Robles, N., Martínez-Jaime, O.A., Segoviano-Garfias J.J.N. and Ramírez-Santoyo L.F., 2019. Sources and distribution of arsenic in agricultural soils of Central Mexico. Journal of Soils and Sediments. 19(6), 2795–2808.
Zhang, J. and Liu, C.L., 2000. Riverine composition and estuarine geochemistry of particulate metals in Chinaweathering features, anthropogenic impact and chemical fluxes. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 54, 1051–1070.