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Impact of Human Activities on the Concentrations of Biogenic Elements in the Natural Environment of the Yangtze River Basin

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DOI: 10.25236/edssr.2022.033


Ruichen Zheng

Corresponding Author

Ruichen Zheng


Biogenic elements play an essential role in maintaining human livelihoods, but too many biogenic elements can also harm the environment. Human activities can change the concentrations of biogenic elements in the natural environment, especially in river basin areas that breed countless human civilizations. Although the Yangtze River is the largest river in Asia, few studies have focused on biogenic elements in the atmosphere, water, and soil of the entire Yangtze River Basin (YRB) simultaneously. This study selects nine locations in the YRB with different levels of economic development, as indicated by the level of GDP density and population density. Samples of atmospheric total suspended particulate (TSP), water, and soil were collected. The physical and chemical properties of biogenic elements present in these samples (carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus) were further analyzed. The resulting concentrations changes vary significantly among TSP, water, and soil with changes in human activities intensity. With the increasing human activities intensity, the concentration in TSP increased first to a peak before falling, conforming to the inverted U curve of environmental pollution, indicating that the peak period of air pollution in the YRB has passed. The mathematical model established in this study shows that the per capita GDP of 37,092 Yuan is the turning point for air quality to change from deterioration to improvement, which conforms with China’s per capita GDP and air quality in recent years. The level of water pollution in the YRB is currently at its peak stage. The concentration in the soil is still increasing but is currently too low to cause environmental hazards. With economic developments, people will improve environmental quality in the sequence of air, water, and soil. This study has important implications for understanding the relationship between human activities and environmental quality to alert the government of environmental pollution prevention and control work.


Biogenic elements, Human activities, Total suspended particulate (tsp), Water, Soil, Yangtze river basin