Geochemical and Pb isotopic characterization of soil, groundwater, human hair, and corn samples from the Domizio Flegreo and Agro Aversano area (Campania region, Italy)

Carmela Rezza*, Stefano Albanese, Robert Ayuso, Annamaria Lima, Jaana Sorvari, Benedetto De Vivo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


A geochemical survey was carried out to investigate metal contamination in the Domizio Littoral and Agro Aversano area (Southern Italy) by means of soil, groundwater, human hair and corn samples. Pb isotope ratios were also determined to identify the sources of metals. Specifically, the investigation focused on topsoils (n =1064), groundwater (n =26), 25 human hair (n =24) and corn samples (n =13). Topsoils have been sampled and analysed in a previous study for 53 elements (including potentially harmful ones), and determined by ICP-MS after dissolving with aqua regia. Groundwater was analysed for 72 elements by ICP-MS and by ICP-ES. Samples of human hair were prepared and analysed for 16 elements by ICP-MS. Dried corn collected at several farms were also analysed for 53 elements by ICP-MS. The isotopic ratios of 206Pb/207Pb and 208Pb/207Pb in selected topsoil (n =24), groundwater (n =9), human hair (n =9) and corn (n =4) samples were analysed from both eluates and residues to investigate possible anthropogenic contamination and geogenic contributions. All data were processed and mapped by ArcGis software to produce interpolated maps and contamination factor maps of potentially harmful elements, in accordance with Italian Environmental Law (Legislative Decree 152/06). Results show that soil sampling sites are characterized by As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Hg, Pb, Se, and Zn contents exceeding the action limits established for residential land use (RAL) and, in some cases, also the action limits for industrial land use (IAL) as established by Legislative Decree 152/06. A map of contamination factors and a map showing the degrees of contamination indicate that the areas in the municipalities of Acerra, Casoria and Giugliano have been affected by considerable anthropogenic-related pollution. To interpret the isotopic data and roughly estimate proportion of Pb from an anthropogenic source we broadly defined possible natural and anthropogenic Pb end-member fields based on literature data. For example, we summarized data for Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei volcanic rocks, gasoline, and aerosol deposits.Lead isotope data show mixing between geogenic and anthropogenic sources. Topsoil, groundwater, human hair and corn samples show a greater contribution from geogenic sources like the Yellow Tuff (from Campi Flegrei) and volcanic rocks from Mt. Vesuvius. Aerosols, fly ash and gasoline (anthropogenic sources) have also been contributors. In detail, 46% of the topsoil residues, 96% of topsoil leachates, 88% of groundwater, 90% of human hair, and 25% of corn samples indicate that >. 50% percent of the lead in this area can be ascribed to anthropogenic activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-332
Number of pages15
Issue numberPart B
Early online date22 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Anthropogenic
  • Contamination
  • Geochemical map
  • Geogenic
  • Groundwater
  • Human hair
  • Lead isotopes
  • Soil
  • Toxic elements


Dive into the research topics of 'Geochemical and Pb isotopic characterization of soil, groundwater, human hair, and corn samples from the Domizio Flegreo and Agro Aversano area (Campania region, Italy)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this