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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Ambient background and quality reference values for trace metals in soils from Algeria

Laribi, Abdelkader; Shand, Charles; Wendler, Renate; Mouhouche, Brahim; Hillier, Stephen; Colinet, Gilles


The establishment of the reference ambient background concentrations (ABCs) and quality reference values (QRVs) for trace metal (TM) concentrations in soils are required for the environmental assessment and any implementation of a protective action. This information is lacking for soils of the eastern Mitidja plain, which is an important agricultural production area in Algeria. Data for the aqua regia extractable Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, Pb and Zn concentrations from 180 composite topsoil samples taken across the Mitidja plain in a stratified random pattern were statistically analysed. Descriptive statistical methods and linear regression equations were applied to determine the upper limit of the ABCs for the TMs. After removal of outliers, the derived QRVs were: Cd 0.24, Cr 62.1, Cu 99.3, Fe 45 590, Ni 47.7, Pb 33 and Zn 115 mg/kg. Iron is a macro element in the soils, but is included as its concentration can be used to normalise the concentrations of the other elements. The derived QRVs are similar or less than those reported for other regions of the world, apart from Cu, where a wide range (36 to 206 mg/kg) is reported. These reference values can be used to identify areas that may require follow-up surveys or to identify priority sites for decision making.


environmental assessment; Mitidja plain; potentially toxic elements; soil contamination; threshold value

Published in

Soil and Water Research
2023, Volume: 18, number: 1, pages: 33-42

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Soil Science

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