First evidence of large-scale PAH trends in French soils
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are widespread organic pollutants. Soils are a reservoir of PAHs because some soil constituents favour PAH accumulation. Therefore, soil is a key indicator of the degree of contamination. So far, studies mapping soil PAH levels over large territories are very rare. Here, we report the first nation-wide maps of soil PAHs in France. Results were obtained within the French National Soil Monitoring Network, which is the first European network monitoring systematically soil PAHs. We used advanced geostatistics to map PAH distribution over the whole French territory. Our results show clear trends of PAH levels at the nation scale. For instance, the highest PAH levels are found in Northern and Eastern France. This high contamination is explained by the intense industrial activity of these regions during the last century. High levels of PAH are also found near some coastlines. This observation could be explained by long-range atmospheric transportation. In addition, we found that light PAHs are rarely found in French topsoils.