JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Spatial distribution and ecological risk assessment of heavy metals in the estuaries surface sediments from the Haihe River Basin]

Shu-Cong Lü, Hong Zhang, Bao-Qing Shan, Li-Qing Li
Huan Jing Ke Xue= Huanjing Kexue 2013, 34 (11): 4204-10
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It is well known that the rivers in the Haihe River Basin have been seriously polluted. However, what is the present condition of the estuary pollution and how the polluted inland rivers affect the estuary areas are not clear. 10 main estuaries of the Haihe River Basin were selected to measure the contents of typical heavy metals (Pb, Cu, Zn, Cd, Cr and Ni) in the surface sediments and to analyze the spatial distribution of these heavy metals. The potential ecological risk index was used to assess the ecological risk of the six heavy metals in the estuaries. The results showed that the contents of Pb, Cu, Zn, Cd, Cr and Ni in the surface sediments of the 10 estuaries were all higher than their background values in the main local soil types and the contents of Cu, Ni and Pb were 2.3-2.6 times as high as their background values, which indicated that the estuaries were contaminated by the six heavy metals. The results also indicated that the contents of the six heavy metals in surface sediment varied from one estuary to another. The four heavy metals of Cr, Cu, Ni and Zn had bigger spatial differences than Pb and Cd in the contents in sediment from different estuaries. The contents of Cr, Cu, Ni and Zn in sediment were higher in the estuaries of the Yongdingxin River, Ziyaxin River and Beipai River than those in the other estuaries, and there were significant correlations between each other (R(Cu-Zn) = 0.891, R(Cu-Cr) = 0.927, R(Cu-Ni) = 0.964, R(Zn-Cr) = 0.842, R(Zn-Ni) = 0.939, and R(Cr-Ni) = 0.879, P < 0.01), which indicated that they possibly came from the same sources. Moreover, the contents of Cr, Cu, Ni and Zn in sediment also had significant correlations with the populations of sub-river basins with correlation coefficients of 0.855, 0.806, 0.867 and 0.855 (P < 0.01), respectively. The contents of Cd and Pb had smaller spatial differences in sediment from different estuaries than the other heavy metals, with the values ranged 23.3-95.8 mg x kg(-1) and 0.051-0.200 mg x kg(-1). Contents of the two heavy metals had no significant correlation with the other heavy metals or with the populations of sub-river basins, indicating that Cd and Pb had little connection with the in-land polluted sources. The results of ecological risk assessment showed that estuaries of the Haihe River Basin had the potential ecological risk at lower levels (RI were 33.7-116) and the most important contaminating element was Cd with a middle-level potential ecological risk (Er(i) were 18.0-48.9).

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