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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(3), 2642-2656; doi:10.3390/ijerph110302642

Distribution and Source Apportionment of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Forest Soils from Urban to Rural Areas in the Pearl River Delta of Southern China

1
Research Institute of Tropical Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Guangzhou 510520, China
2
College of Forestry, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China
3
Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 January 2014 / Revised: 14 February 2014 / Accepted: 17 February 2014 / Published: 4 March 2014
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Abstract

The upper layer of forest soils (0–20 cm depth) were collected from urban, suburban, and rural areas in the Pearl River Delta of Southern China to estimate the distribution and the possible sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Total concentrations of PAHs in the forest soils decreased significantly along the urban–suburban–rural gradient, indicating the influence of anthropogenic emissions on the PAH distribution in forest soils. High and low molecular weight PAHs dominated in the urban and rural forest soils, respectively, implying the difference in emission sources between the areas. The values of PAH isomeric diagnostic ratios indicated that forest soil PAHs were mainly originated from traffic emissions, mixed sources and coal/wood combustion in the urban, suburban and rural areas, respectively. Principal component analysis revealed that traffic emissions, coal burning and residential biomass combustion were the three primary contributors to forest soil PAHs in the Pearl River Delta. Long range transportation of PAHs via atmosphere from urban area might also impact the PAHs distribution in the forest soils of rural area.
Keywords: forest soils; Pearl River Delta; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; source apportionment; urban-rural gradient forest soils; Pearl River Delta; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; source apportionment; urban-rural gradient
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Xiao, Y.; Tong, F.; Kuang, Y.; Chen, B. Distribution and Source Apportionment of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Forest Soils from Urban to Rural Areas in the Pearl River Delta of Southern China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 2642-2656.

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