Incorporating bioaccessibility into human health risk assessments of heavy metals in urban park soils

Sci Total Environ. 2012 May 1:424:88-96. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.02.053. Epub 2012 Mar 21.


Contaminants in urban soils can directly pose significant human health risks through oral ingestion, particle inhalation, and dermal contact, especially for children in public parks. Both non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks of heavy metals (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn) were characterized in 40 surface soils (exposed lawns) from 14 urban parks in Xiamen, China. Results based on total metal concentrations may overestimate the actual risks in comparison with oral bioaccessibility assessment that were estimated by a simplified physiologically based extraction test (SBET). After considering the soil-specific bioaccessibility (Cd>Cu>Pb>Mn>Zn>Co~Ni>Cr), the non-cancer hazard of Pb to children via oral ingestion should be a consideration though its Hazard Index (HI) was below one. The overall cancer risks to adults still exceeded the target value 10(-6), mainly contributed by Cr (93.8%) and Pb (6.19%) via dermal contact (68.3%) and oral ingestion (30.4%). To produce a more realistic estimation for human health risks of metal contamination in urban soils, a framework combining land use type and bioaccessibility is recommended and thereby should be applied for the derivation of risk-based, site-specific soil guidelines.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Availability
  • Child
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cities
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Metals, Heavy / pharmacokinetics
  • Metals, Heavy / toxicity*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Public Health
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Soil Pollutants / pharmacokinetics
  • Soil Pollutants / toxicity*


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Soil Pollutants