PloS one

Contamination of Phthalate Esters (PAEs) in Typical Wastewater-Irrigated Agricultural Soils in Hebei, North China.

PMID 26360905


The Wangyang River (WYR) basin is a typical wastewater irrigation area in Hebei Province, North China. This study investigated the concentration and distribution of six priority phthalate esters (PAEs) in the agricultural soils in this area. Thirty-nine soil samples (0-20 cm) were collected along the WYR to assess the PAE residues in soils. Results showed that PAEs are ubiquitous environmental contaminants in the topsoil obtained from the irrigation area. The concentrations of Σ6PAEs range from 0.191 μg g-1 dw to 0.457 μg g-1 dw with an average value of 0.294 μg g-1 dw. Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) are the dominant PAE species in the agricultural soils. Among the DEHP concentrations, the highest DEHP concentration was found at the sites close to the villages; this result suggested that dense anthropogenic activities and random garbage disposal in the rural area are possible sources of PAEs. The PAE concentrations were weakly and positively correlated with soil organic carbon and soil enzyme activities; thus, these factors can affect the distribution of PAEs. This study further showed that only dimethyl phthalate (DMP) concentrations exceeded the recommended allowable concentrations; no remediation measures are necessary to control the PAEs in the WYR area. However, the PAEs in the topsoil may pose a potential risk to the ecosystem and human health in this area. Therefore, the exacerbating PAE pollution should be addressed.