Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals (HMs) as well as their genotoxicity in soil after long-term wastewater irrigation

Chemosphere. 2006 Dec;65(10):1859-68. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2006.03.076. Epub 2006 May 16.


A study was carried out on the residue level of major concern pollutants (PAHs, PCBs and HMs) and the assessment of their genotoxicity in soils obtained from Shenyang, northeast of China which had been subjected to wastewater irrigation for more than 40 years. Topsoils (0-20cm) in paddy fields were sampled along the upper, middle and lower reaches of the wastewater disposal channel. Sixteen USEPA PAHs were determined by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) with fluorescence detector, eight PCBs were detected by Gas Chromatography (GC) with electron capture detector, and six heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn, Ni, and Cr) were measured by Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS). The genotoxicity effect of soils was examined by Vicia faba micronucleus (MN) test. Archived soils that had undergone a similar history of wastewater irrigation provided by Technical University of Berlin, Germany were subjected to analysis of the above pollutants and Vicia faba/MN test for comparison. Results indicated elevated residues of the studied pollutants (PAHs, especially benzo (a) pyrene, the eight PCB congeners and heavy metals) in both tested and archived soils. The MN frequencies were 2.2-48.4 times higher compared with the control. However, there was no correlation between the MN frequencies and the concentration of pollutants detected. This investigation suggested a potential ecological risk even with a lower level of residual pollutants in soil matrix after long-term wastewater irrigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Germany
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Metals, Heavy / toxicity
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Nitrates / analysis
  • Nitrates / chemistry
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Soil Pollutants / toxicity
  • Vicia faba / drug effects
  • Vicia faba / genetics
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / methods*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Nitrates
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • ammonium nitrate