Abstract: The present study aimed to evaluate the sources of pollution and the potential human and ecological risks of hazardous elements (HEs) in 40 hotspot sites of the agricultural soil around the Arvand River, Iran. The mean concentrations of As, Cd, Co, Cr, Ni, Pb, Zn, and Hg were measured to be 7.2, 0.8, 14.0, 67.9, 69.5, 63.0, 296, and 0.66 (mg kg−1), respectively. With the exception of Ni, the mean concentrations of all the elements were found to be higher than those in the background. The spatial distribution of HEs in the study area indicated an increasing trend of contamination from the north to the south. Pb, Zn, and Hg were the most enriched elements, resulting in a high pollution load. Moreover, the agricultural soil of the study area was threatened by a very high ecological risk due to the contribution of Hg, Cd, and Pb. Multivariate statistical analyses determined that the pollution sources are specified by the oil refinery emissions and effluents, irrigation with polluted water, fertilizers, dust storms, and airport emissions. The carcinogenic risk of HEs in both adults and children revealed an acceptable level; however, children faced a great chance of non-carcinogenic risk. The results provide a scientific basis for monitoring HEs and managing health risks via effective methods in the agricultural areas of the Arvand River basin.
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