Ecological and health risk assessment of toxic elements in surface soils around Ardakan industrial areas

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Faculty of Natural Resources, Ardakan University, Ardakan, Iran.

2 Department of Environment , Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Zabol, Zabol, Iran.

3 Department of Environment, Faculty of Agriculture & Natural Sources, Birjand University, Birjand, Iran.



Soil contamination with toxic elements is a major environmental concern. The establishment of steel and pellet factories in the outskirts of Ardakan city has increased the possibility of various pollutants, especially toxic elements, in this area. The purpose of this research is to evaluate the level of contamination with toxic elements in the surface soils around the industrial areas of Ardakan using enrichment factors (EF), ecological risk potential (PERI) and health risk through the three routes of ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption. In this research, 12 topsoil samples were collected from 12 stations by systematic random method. The concentration of toxic elements Pb, As, Ni and Cd in the samples were measured using ICP-OES device. The average concentration of elements was found to be: Ni (46.75), Pb (36.16), As (9.25) and Cd (0.34) µg/g. The average enrichment factor (EF) for elements was Pb>Ni>Cd>As. Based on the potential ecological risk index (PERI), stations 9 and 11 showed moderate pollution and other stations showed low pollution. The results of health risk assessment based on the hazard quotient (HQ) were lower than one for all elements from three ways of ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption, which cannot indicate the possibility of non-carcinogenic risk potential. The risk of carcinogenesis for adults through ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption in all sampling stations for Pb was negligible; but for Ni and As from ingestion and skin absorption, and for Cd from ingestion, there was a risk of carcinogenesis.


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