Elemental composition analysis

Heavy metal contamination of soil

Part of research activities of the Environmental Physics Laboratory focuses on analysis of heavy metal content of soil samples using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer. The main advantages of this measurement technique are the following: it is non-destructive, requires little sample preparation, and allows multi-element analysis.

Heavy metals are naturally present at trace levels in soil. However, heavy metals in excess are toxic for living organisms. Their high concentrations in soil can affect food quality, groundwater, and can have adverse effects on human health. Urban soil, in particular soil in urban parks and residential areas, may have more direct influence on public health, as it can be transferred to human body through ingestion, inhalation and dermal contact. Major sources of heavy metal pollution in urban soil are various anthropogenic activities, such as traffic, chemical and metallurgical industries, fuel combustion, and construction. As a result of these activities, heavy metals are emitted into the air and are later deposited into urban soil.

Analysis of heavy metal pollution of soil in urban parks of Belgrade is subject of an ongoing research in our Laboratory.