Pollutants in Hong Kong soils: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

M. K. CHUNG, R. HU, K. C. CHEUNG, Ming Hung WONG

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An extensive soil survey was carried out to study the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contaminations in 138 soil samples collected throughout Hong Kong. Results demonstrated that there were low levels of PAH contaminations (median of ∑ 16 US EPA PAHs = 140 μgkg-1) for all land uses (urban park, greening area, country park, rural area, restored landfill, agricultural farmland, orchard farm, crematorium, industrial and near highway area). However, localized hotspots were identified with ∑ 16 PAH concentrations as high as 19 500 μgkg-1 in one urban park. These findings were also confirmed by multivariate analysis. Comparison of PAH profiles showed a widespread domination of its 4-ring member. The major contribution was vehicular emissions from petroleum, and however at the hotspots, the improper disposal of used motor oils. In general, the pollution levels for all the land uses were below the recommended values for residential and general purposes stated in soil quality guidelines such as Netherlands and Denmark except certain identified hotspots. The potential health hazards imposed by these hotspots were alarming, and their existence (3 out of 138 samples) suggested that sole monitoring of atmospheric PAHs may not adequately address the hidden risks to human in urban city. Copyright © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-473
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


Chung, M. K., Hu, R., Cheung, K. C., & Wong, M. H. (2007). Pollutants in Hong Kong soils: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Chemosphere, 67(3), 464-473. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2006.09.062


  • Persistent toxic substances (PTS)
  • South China
  • PAHs
  • Risk assessment
  • Urban soils
  • Contamination
  • Pollution


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