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Application of Stochastic Models in Identification and Apportionment of Heavy Metal Pollution Sources in the Surface Soils of a Large-Scale Region

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-02-19, 11:49 authored by Yuanan Hu, Hefa Cheng
As heavy metals occur naturally in soils at measurable concentrations and their natural background contents have significant spatial variations, identification and apportionment of heavy metal pollution sources across large-scale regions is a challenging task. Stochastic models, including the recently developed conditional inference tree (CIT) and the finite mixture distribution model (FMDM), were applied to identify the sources of heavy metals found in the surface soils of the Pearl River Delta, China, and to apportion the contributions from natural background and human activities. Regression trees were successfully developed for the concentrations of Cd, Cu, Zn, Pb, Cr, Ni, As, and Hg in 227 soil samples from a region of over 7.2 × 104 km2 based on seven specific predictors relevant to the source and behavior of heavy metals: land use, soil type, soil organic carbon content, population density, gross domestic product per capita, and the lengths and classes of the roads surrounding the sampling sites. The CIT and FMDM results consistently indicate that Cd, Zn, Cu, Pb, and Cr in the surface soils of the PRD were contributed largely by anthropogenic sources, whereas As, Ni, and Hg in the surface soils mostly originated from the soil parent materials.