Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in multimedia environment of Heshan coal district, Guangxi: distribution, source diagnosis and health risk assessment

Huan fang Huang, Xin li Xing, Ze zhou Zhang, Shi hua Qi, Dan Yang, Dave A. Yuen, Edward H. Sandy, Ai guo Zhou, Xiao qian Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Mining activities are among the major culprits of the wide occurrences of soil and water pollution by PAHs in coal district, which have resulted in ecological fragilities and health risk for local residents. Sixteen PAHs in multimedia environment from the Heshan coal district of Guangxi, South China, were measured, aiming to investigate the contamination level, distribution and possible sources and to estimate the potential health risks of PAHs. The average concentrations of 16 PAHs in the coal, coal gangue, soil, surface water and groundwater were 5114.56, 4551.10, 1280.12 ng g−1, 426.98 and 381.20 ng L−1, respectively. Additionally, higher soil and water PAH concentrations were detected in the vicinities of coal or coal gangue dump. Composition analysis, isomeric ratio, Pearson correlation analysis and principal component analysis were performed to diagnose the potential sources of PAHs in different environmental matrices, suggesting the dominant inputs of PAHs from coal/coal combustion and coal gangue in the soil and water. Soil and water guidelines and the incremental lifetime risk (ICLR) were used to assess the health risk, showing that soil and water were heavily contaminated by PAHs, and mean ICLRcoal/coal-gangue and mean ICLRsoil were both significantly higher than the acceptable levels (1 × 10−4), posing high potential carcinogenic risk to residents, especially coal workers. This study highlights the environmental pollution problems and public health concerns of coal mining, particularly the potential occupational health hazards of coal miners exposed in Heshan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1169-1181
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We express special thanks to Dr. Ting-Ting Yu, Bin Zhang and Han-Chen Wang for sample collection in the field, Hui Li, Hong-Yan Xiang, Ting-Yu Lan and Xiao-Yu Jiang for their assistance in sample extraction and Dr. Yuan Zhang, Wei Chen and Jing Xiong for the proofreading. Xinli Xing is grateful to the sponsorship of Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC). Dave A. Yuen acknowledges support from Geochemistry Program of National Science Foundation (USA).

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41103065 and 41073070) and the project of environmental geochemical evaluation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil of Heshan coal district, Guangxi, China (No. 2013046191).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Coal mining
  • Heshan, Guangxi Autonomous Region
  • Incremental lifetime risk (ICLR)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Principal component analysis (PCA)


Dive into the research topics of 'Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in multimedia environment of Heshan coal district, Guangxi: distribution, source diagnosis and health risk assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this