Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in agricultural soil and vegetables from Tianjin

Sci Total Environ. 2004 Mar 5;320(1):11-24. doi: 10.1016/S0048-9697(03)00453-4.


Several types of vegetables were collected from two contaminated sites in Tianjin, China. The bulk soil and the rhizosphere soil samples were also collected from the same plots. Sixteen PAHs in the samples were measured. The total concentrations of PAH16 in the bulk soil from the two sites were 1.08 and 6.25 microg/g, respectively, with similar pattern. The concentrations of PAH16 and individual compounds in the rhizosphere were significantly higher than those in the bulk soil with mean values of 2.25 and 7.82 microg/g for the two sites, respectively. The contents of both total and dissolved organic matter in the rhizosphere were also higher than those in the bulk soil. Almost all PAH compounds studied were detected in both roots and aerial parts of the vegetables studied. Abundance of higher molecular weight PAHs in vegetable, however, was lower than that in soil. Concentrations of PAH16 in vegetable were higher than those reported in the literature for other areas. It appears that agricultural soils and vegetables in Tianjin, especially those from the site located immediately next to an urban district and irrigated with wastewater for several decades, are severely contaminated by PAHs. Among the eight types of vegetable studied, the highest concentration of PAHs was found in cauliflower. By average, the concentration of PAH16 in the aerial part of vegetables was 6.5 times higher as that in vegetable root, suggesting that foliar uptake is the primary transfer pathway of PAHs from environment to vegetables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Food Contamination*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / pharmacokinetics*
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Soil Pollutants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Vegetables / chemistry*
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid
  • Water Supply


  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Soil Pollutants