Pollutants in Hong Kong soils: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

M. K. Chung, R. Hu, K. C. Cheung, Ming Hung WONG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

172 Citations (Scopus)


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 μ g kg- 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 μ g kg- 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-473
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

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


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