Quantitative source tracking of heavy metals contained in urban road deposited sediments

Nian Hong, Yingjie Guan, Bo Yang, Jie Zhong, Panfeng Zhu, Yong Sik Ok, Deyi Hou, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Yuntao Guan, An Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Source tracking for heavy metals contained in road deposited sediments (RDS) is essential for pollution control and human health risk management. Previous studies on tracking sources for heavy metals have mostly been qualitative or semi-quantitative. This study quantitatively assessed the relative contributions of eight sources to five typical heavy metals in the urban environment using a chemical mass-balance based stochastic method. The results indicated that tire wear contributed the most masses to RDS (33 ± 26 %) while brake lining dusts contributed the least. Urban soil, tire wear, and brake lining dusts contributed the most to Pb (41 ± 32 %), Zn (28 ± 25 %), and Cu (59 ± 30 %), respectively, while gasoline engine exhaust was the main source of both Cr (29 ± 28 %) and Ni (20 ± 23 %). The outcomes also showed that tire wear and diesel engine exhaust have higher potential to threaten human health risk because they generate high amounts of heavy metals with high bioaccessibility. The research results can also provide a quantitative guidance for taking remediation actions of heavy metal control on urban road surfaces and measuring the effectiveness of those actions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122362
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2020


  • Environmental pollution
  • Human health risk
  • Metals bioaccessibility
  • Source apportionment
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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