Human bioaccessibility of Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn in urban soils from the city of Torino, Italy

Julien Sialelli, Christine M. Davidson, Andrew S. Hursthouse, Franco Ajmone-Marsan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Several physiologically based extraction procedures have been proposed to estimate the fraction of the potentially toxic element content that would be bioaccessible in the human gastro-intestinal tract following accidental ingestion of soil. Many of these procedures are complex, they have been applied to a very limited range of soils, and most work has focussed on arsenic and lead. In the present study, a simplified, two-stage extraction, simulating the human stomach and intestine, was developed and applied to urban soil samples from ten public-access areas in the City of Torino, Italy. The human oral bioaccessibility of chromium, copper, nickel, lead and zinc was estimated. Lead and zinc bioaccessibilities were found to be higher in the stomach, but chromium was more bioaccessible in the intestine. Analyte concentrations were higher in roadside soils than in soils from parks. A higher proportion of the soil metal content was found in bioaccessible forms at roadsides than in parks. Comparison of the current findings with results of earlier work involving sequential extraction of the same soils indicated that the sequential procedure gave a relative, but not an absolute, indication of bioaccessibility. Calculations based on the bioaccessible analyte concentrations suggest that ingestion of only 2-3 g of some of the roadside soil samples from Torino could deliver the tolerable daily oral intake of chromium, nickel and lead to a 20-kg child. The developed procedure is useful for preliminary screening of soils and prediction of whether their bioaccessible metal contents are likely to pose a risk to human health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-202
JournalEnvironmental Chemistry Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • Urban soil
  • Potentially toxic element
  • Bioaccessibility


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