Polychlorinated biphenyls in agricultural soils from the Yangtze River Delta of China: Regional contamination characteristics, combined ecological effects and human health risks

Jianteng Sun, Lili Pan, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Yu Zhan, Wenxin Liu, Xilong Wang, Lizhong Zhu, Xiangdong Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The concentrations of PCBs ranged from <0.1 to 130 ng/g dry weight. Higher concentrations of PCBs were observed in the 0–30 cm surface layers relative to the subsurface soils. A distinct spatial distribution was observed with a declining concentration gradient from the northwest to the southeast of the region. The composition of PCBs in the soils was consistent with the Chinese commercial PCB mixtures, but different from the compositions in global background soil. Local sources including large-scale use and disposal of PCB-containing products were the main potential sources to soil. The ecological effects and human health risks associated with combined persistent organic pollutants, including PCBs, organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), phthalate esters (PAEs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), were further estimated. The four toxic organic compounds and seven physicochemical parameters together could only explain 12.7% of the variation in microbial community composition, suggesting the soil ecosystem function was not strongly influenced by the combined pollution at low concentrations. However, the potential health risks to residents via multiple pathways were notably higher for PCBs than other chemicals. The potential risks were mainly derived from PCB-126, 81, and 169.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-428
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Agricultural soil
  • Combined pollution
  • Health risks
  • Microbial communities
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Yangtze River Delta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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