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    Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Lesser Poland’s landscape parks

    Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

    The soil in Lesser Poland’s landscape parks has been found to contain elevated levels of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), according to research from the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow.


    The study focused on 10 PAHs commonly found in areas where human transport or industry occurs. The research team found that a quarter of soil samples exceeded safe limits for PAHs, posing significant risks to land surfaces in the area.

    The issue was most pronounced around transportation routes, especially local roads that run through the protected parks. Scientists, led by Dr. Alicja Kicińska, a professor at AGH, called for new legal solutions to help environmental protection authorities develop methods to better assess and remediate the ecological state of conservation areas. The research team collected surface soil samples from five landscape parks and five nature reserves in the region.

    The aim of the research was to determine the extent of soil pollution caused by the ten most common PAHs in ecologically valuable areas. Researchers found that there is a gap in the detailed monitoring and evaluation of such threats in protected areas in Poland.

    Polyaromatic hydrocarbons are organic compounds containing at least two fused aromatic rings. There are around 200 different substances in this group, some of which are suspected or proven to have genotoxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic effects.

    PAHs have always been present in the environment, but human activity has increased their occurrence in recent years. They are produced during incomplete combustion of organic matter, both naturally and through human actions. The largest quantities of PAHs are released during the combustion of coal and oil for municipal and industrial purposes, transport, as well as smoking, and cooking food.

    Given their prevalence in the environment, polyaromatic hydrocarbons are a serious threat to human health and agriculture. Sixteen PAHs have been listed as priority pollutants by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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