The study of metal contamination in urban soils of Hong Kong using a GIS-based approach

Xiangdong Li, Siu Ian Lee, Sze Chung Wong, Wen Zhong Shi, Iain Thornton

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

415 Citations (Scopus)


The study of regional variations and the anthropogenic contamination by metals of soils is very important for environmental planning and monitoring in urban areas. An extensive survey was conducted in the highly urbanized Kowloon area (46.9 km2) of Hong Kong, using a systematic sampling strategy with a sampling density of 3-5 composite soil samples (0-15 cm) per km2. Geochemical maps of 'total' metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn) from strong acid extraction in the surface soils were produced based on geographical information system (GIS) technology. A significant spatial relationship was found for Ni, Cu, Pb and Zn in the soils using a GIS-based analysis, suggesting that these metal contaminants in the soils of the Kowloon area had common sources. Several hot-spot areas of metal contamination were identified from the composite metal geochemical map, mainly in the old industrial and residential areas. A further GIS analysis revealed that road junctions, major roads and industrial buildings were possible sources of heavy metals in the urban soils. The Pb isotope composition of the contaminated soils showed clear anthropogenic origins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-124
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • GIS
  • Heavy metals
  • Hong Kong
  • Pb isotope
  • Urban soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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