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Urban green space area mitigates the accumulation of heavy metals in urban soils

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Evangelos Petropoulos


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© 2024 Elsevier Ltd. Despite that the heavy metals in urban soils pose a threat to public health, the critical factors that influence their concentrations in urban soils are not well understood. In this study, we conducted a survey of surface soil samples from urban green spaces in Shanghai, to analyze the concentrations of the key heavy metals. The results showed that Zn was the most abundant metal with an average concentration of 122.99 mg kg−1, followed by Pb (32.72 mg kg−1) and Cd (0.23 mg kg−1). All concentrations were found to be below the risk screening values defined by the National Environmental Quality Standards for soils of development land in China (GB36600-2018), indicating no current risk in Shanghai. However, there was a clear accumulation of heavy metals, as the mean concentrations were significantly higher than the background values. Furthermore, we explored the relationships between key heavy metals with population density, GDP and green space area. Both Spearman correlation and Random Forest analysis indicated that per capita green space area (pGSA) and population density were the most crucial factors influencing the status of heavy metals in urban soils, unlike edaphic factors e.g. SOM content in farmland soils. Specifically, there was a significantly positive linear correlation between heavy metal concentrations and population density, with correlation coefficients ranging from 0.3 to 0.4. However, the correlation with pGSA was found to be non-linear. The nonlinear regression analysis revealed threshold values between heavy metals concentrations and pGSA (e.g Zn 22.22 m2, Pb 24.92 m2, and Cd 25.92 m2), with a sharp reduction in heavy metal concentrations below the threshold and a slow reduction above the threshold. It suggests that an increase in per capita green space area can mitigate the accumulation of heavy metals caused by growing population density, but the effect is limited after the threshold. Our findings not only provide insights into the distribution patterns of heavy metals in the urban soils at the local scale, but also contribute to the urban greening at the global scale and offer guidance for city planning in the face of increasing population densities over the coming decades.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Luo S, Chen R, Han J, Zhang W, Petropoulos E, Liu Y, Feng Y

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Chemosphere

Year: 2024

Volume: 352

Print publication date: 01/03/2024

Online publication date: 03/02/2024

Acceptance date: 18/01/2024

ISSN (print): 0045-6535

ISSN (electronic): 1879-1298

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2024.141266

PubMed id: 38316278


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Funder referenceFunder name
National Natural Science Foundation of China
Technology Innovation Special Foundation for Carbon Peak and Carbon Neutrality of Jiangsu Province
Scientific Research Foundation of Shanghai Landscaping & City Appearance Administrative Bureau
Shanghai Finance Special Project