Heavy metal contamination in roadside soil due to traffic emission has been recognized for a long time. However, seldom has been reported regarding identification of critical factors influencing the accumulation of heavy metals in urban roadside soils due to the frequent disturbances such as the repair of damaged roads and green belt maintanance. Heavy metals in the roadside soils of 45 roads in Xihu district, Hangzhou city were investigated. Results suggested the accumulation of Cu, Pb, Cd, Cr, and Zn in roadside soil was affected by human activity. However, only two sites had Pb and Zn excessing the standards for residential areas, respectively, according to Chinese Environmental Quality Standards for soils. The concentrations of Cu, Pb, Cd, and Zn were significantly and positively correlated to soil pH and organic matter. An insignificant correlation between the age of the roads or vegetation cover types and the concentration of heavy metals was found although they were reported closely relating to the accumulation of heavy metals in roadside soils of highways. The highest Pb, Cd, and Cr taking place in sites with heavy traffic and significant differences in the concentrations of Cu, Pb, Cd, and Zn among the different categories of roads suggested the contribution of traffic intensity. However, it was difficult to establish a quantitative relationship between traffic intensity and the concentrations of heavy metals in the roadside soil. It could be concluded that impaction of traffic emission on the accumulation of heavy metals in roadside soils in urban area was slight and soil properties such as pH and organic matters were critical factors influencing the retention of heavy metals in soils.
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