São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and South America with about 20 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, more
than nine million motor vehicles and intense industrial activity, which are responsible for increasing pollution in the region.
Nevertheless, little is known concerning metal and semi-metal content in the soils of this metropolitan region. This type
of information could be extremely useful as a fingerprint of environmental pollution. The present study determined the elements
As, Ba, Co, Cr, Sb, and Zn concentrations in soils adjacent to avenues of highly dense traffic in São Paulo city to assess
their levels and possible sources. The analytical technique employed was Instrumental neutron activation analysis. The results
showed, except for Co, concentration levels higher than the reference values for soils of São Paulo, according to the Environmental
Protection Agency of the State of São Paulo guidelines. When compared to similar studies in other cities around the world,
São Paulo soils presented higher levels, probably due to its high density traffic and industrial activity. The concentrations
obtained for As and Cr indicate anthropogenic origin. The high levels of the traffic-related elements Ba, Sb, and Zn in soils
nearby high density traffic avenues indicate they may originate from vehicular exhausts.