Variability in concentrations of potentially toxic elements in urban parks from six European cities
Use of a harmonised sampling regime has allowed comparison of concentrations of copper, chromium, nickel, lead and zinc in six urban parks located in different European cities differing markedly in their climate and industrial history. Wide concentrations ranges were found for copper, lead and zinc at most sites, but for chromium and nickel a wide range was only seen in the Italian park, where levels were also considerably greater than in other soils. As might be expected, the soils from older cities with a legacy of heavy manufacturing industry (Glasgow, Torino) were richest in potentially toxic elements (PTEs); soils from Ljubljana, Sevilla and Uppsala had intermediate metal contents, and soils from the most recently established park, in the least industrialised city (Aveiro), displayed lowest concentrations. When principal component analysis was applied to the data, associations were revealed between pH and organic carbon content; and between all five PTEs. When pH and organic carbon content were excluded from the PCA, a distinction became clear between copper, lead and zinc (the “urban” metals) on the one hand, and chromium and nickel on the other. Similar results were obtained for the surface (0–10 cm depth) and sub-surface (10–20 cm depth) samples. Comparisons with target or limit concentrations were limited by the existence of different legislation in different countries and the fact that few guidelines deal specifically with public-access urban soils intended for recreational use.