Fractionation of potentially toxic elements in urban soils from five European cities by means of a harmonised sequential extraction procedure

Christine M. Davidson, Graham J. Urquhart, Franco Ajmone-Marsan, Mattia Biasioli, Armando da Costa Duarte, Encarnación Díaz-Barrientos, Helena Grčman, Iain Hossack, Andrew S. Hursthouse, Luis Madrid, Sonia Rodrigues, Marko Zupan

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The revised (four-step) BCR sequential extraction procedure has been applied to fractionate the chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, lead and zinc contents in urban soil samples from public-access areas in five European cities. A preliminary inter-laboratory comparison was conducted and showed that data obtained by different laboratories participating in the study were sufficiently harmonious for comparisons to be made between cities and land types (e.g. parks, roadside, riverbanks, etc.). Analyte recoveries by sequential extraction, with respect to direct aqua regia digestion, were generally acceptable (100 ± 15%). Iron, nickel and, at most sites, chromium were found mainly in association with the residual phase of the soil matrix. Copper was present in the reducible, oxidisable and residual fractions, whilst zinc was found in all four sequential extracts. Manganese was strongly associated with reducible material as, in some cities, was lead. This is of concern because high lead concentrations were present in some soils (>500 mg kg−1) and the potential exists for remobilisation under reducing conditions. As would be expected, extractable metal contents were generally highest in older, more heavily industrialised cities. Copper, lead and zinc showed marked (and often correlated) variations in concentrations between sites within the same city whereas manganese and, especially, iron, did not. No overall relationships were, however, found between analyte concentrations and land use, nor between analyte partitioning and land use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-72
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


  • Potentially toxic elements
  • Potentially toxic metals
  • Urban soil
  • Sequential extraction
  • chemistry

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