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Long-term spatial and temporal patterns of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Scottish soils over 20 years (1990–2009): a national picture.

Cui, Song; Zhang, Zulin; Fu, Qiang; Hough, Rupert; Yates, Kyari; Osprey, Mark; Yakowa, Godiya; Coull, Malcolm


Song Cui

Zulin Zhang

Qiang Fu

Rupert Hough

Mark Osprey

Godiya Yakowa

Malcolm Coull


Long-term spatial and temporal concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Scottish soils from four transects were measured in three national-scale surveys conducted between 1990 and 2009. Measured concentrations of 16 priority PAHs ranged from 15,690 to 83.7 ng g−1, with an average of 3659 ± 3131 to 727 ± 654 ng g−1, of which the high molecular weight (HMW) PAHs (4–6 rings) accounted for 73.9 to 89.6%. Overall, concentrations of PAHs in the soil have decreased over time, but the proportion of carcinogenic ∑PAH7 has increased. Concentrations of total PAHs correlated significantly with latitude (R = −0.345, p = 0.001). A significant correlation was found between concentrations of PAHs and soil organic carbon (SOC, R = 0.439, p = 0.000), which is an important factor, influencing the levels of PAHs in soils. Source apportionment analysis indicated that the emission sources of PAHs have evolved from coal and biomass combustion to more diverse sources during the two decades covered by the surveys. It is likely that this reflects societal development towards a lower carbon economy and less use of biomass buring for domestic space heating.


CUI, S., ZHANG, Z., FU, Q., HOUGH, R., YATES, K., OSPREY, M., YAKOWA, G. and COULL, M. 2020. Long-term spatial and temporal patterns of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Scottish soils over 20 years, 1990-2009: a national picture. Geoderma [online], 361, article ID 114135. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 11, 2019
Online Publication Date Dec 23, 2019
Publication Date Mar 1, 2020
Deposit Date Dec 19, 2019
Publicly Available Date Dec 24, 2020
Journal Geoderma
Print ISSN 0016-7061
Electronic ISSN 1872-6259
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 361
Article Number 114135
Keywords Soil analysis; Soil toxicity; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Hydrocarbons; Scotland; Soil; Modeling; Spacial patterns; Temporal change; PAHs
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