Potentially toxic elements contamination represents a universal problem of major concern, due to several adverse health effects on human beings when permissible concentration levels are overcome. In this sense, the assessment of potentially risky elements content in different environmental matrices plays a key role in the safeguarding of the quality of the environment, and thus of the strictly correlated public health. In this article, measurements of the average potentially toxic elements concentrations in pyroclastic products from Mt. Etna, Eastern Sicily and Southern Italy were performed together with a comparison with the allowable levels set by Italian legislation, with the aim to evaluate the level of toxicity imposed on the ecosystem. For this purpose, Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) measurements were performed to investigate any possible chemical pollution by potentially risky elements, by applying different indices such as Enrichment Factor (EF), Geo-accumulation Index (I-geo), Contamination Factor (CF) and Pollution Load Index (PLI). Finally, the multivariate statistical analysis was performed by processing potentially toxic elements content and pollution indices. It is worth noting that the used approach could be applied, in principle, for the evaluation of the chemical risk due to the presence of potentially toxic elements in a large variety of samples of particular environmental interest, and can constitute a guideline for investigations focused on the monitoring of the environmental quality.
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