Metal release under anaerobic conditions of urban soils of four European cities

F. Ajmone-Marsan, Elio Padoan, F. Madrid, B. Vrščaj, M. Biasioli, C. M. Davidson

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Urban soil contamination may represent an environmental threat in view of their proximity to humans. The ecological homogenization of urban areas has been postulated, and as the sources of pollution are the same in most European cities, it is possible that soil contamination is another factor of convergence. The current climate change with consequent increase of extreme rain events may affect the mobility of potentially toxic elements (PTE) thus increasing the risks. If the soil is submerged, Eh decreases and causes the solubilization of Fe and Mn oxides, which are important carriers of PTE. We compared the release of Cu, Pb, and Zn from 48 soils of four cities (namely Glasgow, Ljubljana, Sevilla, and Torino) when submerged for up to 30 days. A decrease of the redox potential was observed in all soils after a few days and an increase of Mn and then Fe in solution. Cu, Pb, and Zn were consequently released to the solution according to the general soil contamination. Despite the marked differences in soil properties, the reaction to anaerobiosis appeared to be similar in all samples indicating that waterlogging of urban soil contaminated with PTE may pose a serious environmental risk and substantiating the hypothesis of ecological convergence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number53
Number of pages16
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Early online date9 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • climate change
  • flooding
  • potentially toxic elements
  • redox
  • urban soils


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