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Heavy metal contamination assessment of surface sediments of the Subei Shoal, China: Spatial distribution, source apportionment and ecological risk

Zhang, Mingming, He, Pei, Qiao, Guo, Huang, Jintian, Yuan, Xiutang, Li, Qiang
Chemosphere 2019 v.223 pp. 211-222
arsenic, cadmium, chromium, clay, copper, heavy metals, lead, mercury, nickel, pollution load, principal component analysis, risk, salt marshes, sand, silt, total organic carbon, toxicity, zinc, China
This study investigated heavy metals (Ni, Zn, Cr, Cu, As, Pb, Cd and Hg) concentrations in surface sediment of Subei Shoal, China, to illustrate their spatial distribution characteristics, sources and potential ecological risk of pollution. Contents of total organic carbon (TOC), clay, silt and sand were 1.7 ± 0.8%, 3.3 ± 3.2%, 13.6 ± 14.2% and 83.1 ± 17.4%, respectively. The spatial distribution of TOC, clay and silt were similar; however, distribution of Hg was inverse. Concentrations of Ni, Zn, Cr, Cu, As, Pb, Cd and Hg were 47.88 ± 8.93, 38.18 ± 8.86, 19.22 ± 5.14, 11.32 ± 5.07, 6.97 ± 2.45, 0.13 ± 0.72, 0.56 ± 0.77 and 0.06 ± 0.02 mg kg⁻¹ sediment, respectively. Principal component analysis suggested that Cu, Zn, Cd, Cr and Ni were mainly derived from natural sources, whereas Pb, Cd, As and Hg from industrial and agricultural sources. Results of geo-accumulation index, potential ecological risk index (RI), pollution load index (PLI), toxic risk index (TRI) and contamination severity index (CSI) demonstrated that pollution levels of Cd and Hg were moderate, which should attract more attention as main pollution factors. The pollution was mainly distributed in the central and northern parts, and the southern part had a good ecological environment. Moreover, the contaminated stations accounted respective for 33.4%, 25.9%, 33.3% and 70.4% of RI, PLI, TRI and CSI, of which 70.4% of the contamination severity index stations contained 66.7% of much lower severity stations. These findings could contribute to more effective exploitation of tidal flat resources, and the prevention and treatment of tidal marsh environment.