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Behavior of suspended particles in the Changjiang Estuary: Size distribution and trace metal contamination

Yao, Qingzhen, Wang, Xiaojing, Jian, Huimin, Chen, Hongtao, Yu, Zhigang
Marine pollution bulletin 2016 v.103 no.1-2 pp. 159-167
aquatic organisms, cadmium, chromium, copper, estuaries, heavy metals, iron, lead, manganese, organic matter, particle size, particulates, pollutants, salinity, suspended sediment, water pollution, weathering, zinc
Suspended particulate matter (SPM) samples were collected along a salinity gradient in the Changjiang Estuary in June 2011. A custom-built water elutriation apparatus was used to separate the suspended sediments into five size fractions. The results indicated that Cr and Pb originated from natural weathering processes, whereas Cu, Zn, and Cd originated from other sources. The distribution of most trace metals in different particle sizes increased with decreasing particle size. The contents of Fe/Mn and organic matter were confirmed to play an important role in increasing the level of heavy metal contents. The Cu, Pb, Zn, and Cd contents varied significantly with increasing salinity in the medium–low salinity region, thus indicating the release of Cu, Pb, Zn, and Cd particles. Thus, the transfer of polluted fine particles into the open sea is probably accompanied by release of pollutants into the dissolved compartment, thereby amplifying the potential harmful effects to marine organisms.