Exponential industrialization and rapid urbanization have resulted in contamination of soil by metals from anthropogenic sources in Dongguan, China. The aims of this research were to determine the concentration and distribution of various metals (arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn)) in soils and identify their potential health risks for local residents. A total of 106 soil samples were collected from the vicinity of industrial sites in Dongguan. Two types of samples were collected from each site: topsoil (0–20 cm, TS) and shallow soil (20–50 cm, SS). Results showed that the soils were contaminated by metals and pollution was mainly focused on TS. The geoaccumulation index (Igeo
) and pollution indexes (PI
) implied that there was a slight increase in the concentrations of Cd, Cu, Hg, Ni, and Pb, but the metal pollution caused by industrial activities was less severe, and elements of As and Cr exhibited non-pollution level. The risk assessment results suggested that there was a potential health risk associated with As and Cr exposure for residents because the carcinogenic risks of As and Cr via corresponding exposure pathways exceeded the safety limit of 10−6
(the acceptable level of carcinogenic risk for humans). Furthermore, oral ingestion and inhalation of soil particles are the main exposure pathways for As and Cr to enter the human body.
This study may provide basic information of metal pollution control and human health protection in the vicinity of industrial regions.
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