Survey of phthalate pollution in arable soils in China
The problem of pollution by phthalates is of global concern due to their widespread occurrence, toxicity and endocrine disruption properties. The contamination by phthalates such as dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) in 23 arable soils throughout China was investigated to evaluate the present pollution situation. The survey results demonstrated that phthalates were ubiquitous pollutants in soils in China. The total concentrations of phthalates differed from one location to another, and ranged from 0.89 to 10.03 mg kg−1 with a median concentration of 3.43 mg kg−1. Among the phthalates, DEHP was dominant and detected in all 23 soils. DEP and DBP were also in abundance, and DMP was rarely detected. Similar contamination patterns were observed in all 23 soils. A distinct feature of phthalate pollution in China was that the average concentration in northern China was higher than that in southern China. In addition, a close relationship was observed between the concentration of phthalates in soils and the consumption of agricultural film. The correlation showed that the application of agriculture film might be a significant pollution source of phthalates in arable soils of China. The potential risk of phthalates in soils was assessed on the basis of current guide values and limits.