EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Assessing the transfer factors (TFs) of contaminants from soil to plants: the case study of Campania region (Southern Italy)

Lucia Rita Pacifico1, Annalise Guarino1, Gianfranco Brambilla2, Antonio Pizzolante3, and Stefano Albanese1
Lucia Rita Pacifico et al.
  • 1University of Naples , Federico II, The Department of Earth Science, Environment and Resources, Napoli, Italy (
  • 2The Italian National Institute of Health, Department of Food Safety and Veterinary Public Health, Rome, Italy
  • 3Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Southern Italy, Portici, Italy

The presence of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) derived from anthropogenic sources in soil represents a serious issue for animal and human health. These elements can easily move from the geological compartment to the biological compartment through to the food chain. (Jarup, 2003).

The geochemical knowledge of a territory allows to assess the degree of contamination of the environment, to locate the sources of environmental hazard and, possibly, to manage the anomalous concentrations of the PTEs in environmental matrices with the purpose of eliminating or minimizing their negative impact on the health of living beings. (Reimann et al. 2005).

Several studies have been already carried out to determine the distribution patterns of PTEs in the soil of Campania region (Southern Italy) (De Vivo et al., 2022) but little is known about the transfer processes of contaminants from soils to agricultural products.

In light of above, we present the results of a new study whose purpose was to determine the Transfer Factors (TFs) of PTEs from soil to a series of agricultural products commonly grown in Campania.

Considering the complex geological and geomorphological settings of the region and the diffuse presence of an historical anthropization related to the industry, agriculture, and urbanization, TFs were calculated for a relevant number of fruit and vegetable samples (3731 specimens). They were collected across the whole regional territory to detect differences between analysed species and to highlight the spatial changes in TFs occurring for individual species.

The TFs were calculated starting from the quasi-total (based on Aqua Regia leaching) and bioavailable (based on Ammonium Nitrate leaching) concentrations of PTEs in 7000 and 1500 soil samples, respectively.

Preliminary results show that TFs determined for the various agricultural species vary in space and in amount independently from the original elemental concentrations in soils. High values of TFs are found in areas where PTE concentrations in soil are low and vice versa, thus suggesting that multiple regression and multivariate analyses could be performed to investigate if some additional chemical and physical characteristics of soil (pH, grainsize, OM, etc.) could have a relevant weight on the transfer processes of contaminant from the soil to the plant life.



Järup L. 2003. Hazards of heavy metal contamination. Br. Med. Bull. 68, 167–182.

Reimann C., de Caritat P. 2005. Distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic sources for elements in the environment: regional geochemical surveys versus enrichment factors. Science of The Total Environment, Volume 337, Issues 1–3, pages 91-107.

De Vivo B. et al. 2022. Monitoraggio geochimico-ambientale dei suoli e dell'aria della Regione Campania. Piano Campania trasparente. Volume 4. Aracne Editore, Genzano di Roma.

How to cite: Pacifico, L. R., Guarino, A., Brambilla, G., Pizzolante, A., and Albanese, S.: Assessing the transfer factors (TFs) of contaminants from soil to plants: the case study of Campania region (Southern Italy), EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-13693,, 2023.