This study presents the concentrations and modes of occurrence of trace elements in 81 coal samples from the can basin of northwestern Turkey. The concentration of trace elements in coal were determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry. Additionally, traditional coal parameters were studied by proximate, ultimate. X-ray diffraction, and petrographic analyses. Twenty trace elements, including As, B, Ba, Be, Cd, Cu, Co, F, Hg, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Se Sn,Th, Tl, U, V. and Zn, receive much attention due to their related environmental and human health concerns. The can coals investigated in this study are lignite to sub-bituminous coal, with a broad range of ash yields and sulphur contents. The trace element concentrations show variety within the coal seams in the basin, and the affinities vary among locations. The concentrations of B. Ba, Be, Cd, Cu, Co, F, Hg, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Se, Sn, TI, and Zn in Can coals are within the Swaine's worldwide concentration range, with the exception of As, Th, U. and V. On the other hand, compared with world coals, the Can basin coals have higher contents of As, B, Cu, Co, Mo, Pb, Th, U, V. and Zn. Based on statistical analyses, most of the trace elements, except for U, show an affinity to ash yield. Elements including As, Cd, Hg, Se, Cu, Mo. Ni, and Zn, show a possible association with pyrite; however, the elements Se, B, and Mo can be have both organic and inorganic associations. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.