Principal components analysis (PCA) and correlation analysis were used to estimate the contribution of four components related to pollutant sources on the total variation in concentrations of Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd, As, Se, Hg, Fe and Mn in surface soil samples from a valley in east China with numerous copper and zinc smelters. Results indicate that when carrying out source identification of inorganic pollutants their tendency to migrate in soils may result in differences between the pollutant composition of the source and the receptor soil, potentially leading to errors in the characterization of pollutants using multivariate statistics. The stability and potential migration or movement of pollutants in soils must therefore be taken into account. Soil physicochemical properties may offer additional useful information. Two different mechanisms have been hypothesized for correlations between soil heavy metal concentrations and soil organic matter content and these may be helpful in interpreting the statistical analysis.
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