Abstract Multi-element analysis results of direct energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence of soil samples taken in the vicinity of a non-ferrous plant in Antwerp are reported. High concentrations of Pb, Cu, Zn, As and Se are found in nearby residential areas, especially in top-soil layers. Selenium pollution appears not to be leached significantly to lower soil horizons, but it is available for uptake by rye-grass, in which toxic levels are found. Results are compared to literature data. Hydride generation atomic absorption spectrometry proved to be unsuitable for direct analysis of the heavily contaminated soils.