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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the soils of a densely populated region and associated human health risks:

the Campania Plain (Southern Italy) case study


Stefano Albanese1, Barbara Fontaine2,  Wei Chen,  Annamaria Lima1Claudia Cannatelli1, Alessandro Piccolo2, Shihua Qi3, Menghan Wang1Benedetto De Vivo1

1 Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell’Ambiente e delle Risorse, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Largo San Marcellino 10, 80138 Napoli, Italy
2 Dipartimento di Scienze del Suolo, della Pianta, dell’Ambiente e delle Produzioni Animali, Universita` degli Studi di Napoli ‘‘Federico II’’, Via Universita` 100, 80055 Portici, Naples, Italy
3State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology, China University of Geosciences, 430074 Wuhan, People’s Republic of China
Environmental Geochemistry Health (2015) 37:1–20
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a major class of environmental pollutants mainly arising from anthropogenic activities. In this paper, the behavior and the distribution patterns of sixteen PAHs, listed as priority pollutants by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, were evaluated in 119 soil samples collected in different areas of Campania region in the southern Italy. The observation of the geochemical distribution patterns showed that both high and low molecular weight PAHs are mostly concentrated within the metropolitan area of Naples, the Agro Aversano area, and, partly, the Sarno River basin. In accordance with the Italian environmental law (D. Lgs. 152/2006), these areas should be considered potentially contaminated and not suitable for a residential use unless an environmental risk analysis does not demonstrate their safety. As a consequence, a preliminary quantitative risk assessment enhanced by the use of GIS was run revealing the existence of an incremental lifetime cancer risk higher than 1 9 10-5 for the city of Naples and for some other populous areas.
Key-words: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - Soil pollution - Geochemical mapping - Health risk - Campania region