Elemental composition of surface soils in Nature Park Shumen Plateau and Shumen City, Bulgaria

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Anthropogenic activities cause environmental pollution and alter biogeochemical cycles. Soils in cities and their vicinity are exposed to different pollutants. Nature Park Shumen Plateau is a protected area situated in the proximity of Shumen (Bulgaria). The aim of this research was to compare elemental composition of surface soil samples from Nature Park with two areas in Shumen city.

Soil samples from seven sites on the territory of Nature Park and from two urban sites were collected. The elemental composition of the samples was determined using Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence technique. Principal component analysis and cluster analysis were performed to interpret the complex data.

The content of 24 elements was determined: Br, Y, Zr, Mo, Ag, Cd, Sn, Sb, I, Cs, Ba, La, Ce Si, K, Ca, Ti, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, Rb, Sr, and Pb. Results presented here and previously showed that concentrations of heavy metals Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb are below the upper limit according to Bulgarian legislation. Concentrations of Mn and Fe in samples from Nature Park were comparable to the literature data reported for unpolluted areas. Principal component analysis and cluster analysis show similarity of the content of 24 elements between samples from Nature Park and from Shumen city. These findings are in accordance with our previous positive results from Allium-test: cytogenetic endpoints showed a presence of harmful compounds in Nature Park soils.

The content of heavy metals in the surface soils studied show a lack of environmental risk for Nature Park. However, a similar distribution pattern of the investigated elements in the park and two anthropologically influenced areas in Shumen city indicated a potential hazard in Nature Park.

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