The concentrations, profiles, sources and spatial distribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were determined in 40 surface soil samples collected from Beijing, Tianjin and surrounding areas, North China in 2007, and all sampling sites were far from industrial areas, roadsides and other pollution sources, and across a range of soil types in remote, rural villages and urban areas. The total concentrations of 16 PAHs ranged from 31.6 to 1475.0 ng/g, with an arithmetic average of 336.4 ng/g. The highest PAH concentrations were measured in urban soils, followed by rural village soils and soils from remote locations. The remote-rural village-urban PAH concentration gradient was related to population density, gross domestic product (GDP), long-range atmospheric transport and different types of land use. In addition, the PAH concentration was well correlated with the total organic carbon (TOC) concentration of the soil. The PAH profile suggested that coal combustion and biomass burning were primary PAH sources.
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