Estimating the pollution characteristics and health risks of potentially toxic metal(loid)s in urban-industrial soils in the Indus basin, Pakistan

Irshad, Samina
Liu, Guijian
Yousaf, Balal
Ullah, Habib
Ali, Muhammad Ubaid
Rinklebe, Jorg
The Indus Basin Irrigation Network (IBIN) plays a vital role in the agricultural system of Pakistan, irrigating seventeen million hectares of cultivated areas. Rapid urbanization, industrialization, and agricultural activities along the Indus basin have influenced the soil quality and human health; it is, therefore, critical to know its pollution characteristics. Soil samples from Indus basin, i.e., Abbottabad (ABT), Haripur (HRP), Attock (ATC), and Islamabad (ISB) have been analyzed for the total contents of potentially toxic metal(loid)s (PTMs) in the top layer. The topsoil samples from 0 to 10 cm depth have been further investigated using different pollution indices and human health risk assessment models. The contamination degree of soil pollution was highest in ISB (33.75), followed by ABT (25.30) and ATC (23.57). The assessment of the daily intake of PTMs by children and adults through different pathways revealed ingestion as the significant exposure pathway. Cr was found to be the major element posing non-carcinogenic health risks to children at ATC whereas the non-carcinogenic risks posed by all other PTMs were within the safe limit. Furthermore, life-time carcinogenic risks for Ni followed by Cr and Cd were greatly exceeded at all locations and As at ATC and ISB for both age groups, but comparatively children were found to be at a higher risk of carcinogenicity. Hence, efficient remediation strategies are needed to reduce the increasing content and health risks of PTMs in the Indus basin.


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Citation Formats
S. Irshad, G. Liu, B. Yousaf, H. Ullah, M. U. Ali, and J. Rinklebe, “Estimating the pollution characteristics and health risks of potentially toxic metal(loid)s in urban-industrial soils in the Indus basin, Pakistan,” ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT, pp. 0–0, 2019, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: