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Water quality in the Tibetan Plateau: Metal contents of four selected rivers

Huang, Xiang, Sillanpaa, Mika, Duo, Bu, Gjessing, Egil T.
Environmental pollution 2008 v.156 no.2 pp. 270-277
rivers, water quality, water pollution, heavy metals, climate change, land use change, China
The water used by 85% of the Asian population originates in Tibetan Plateau. During April and May of 2006, water samples were collected from four major Asian rivers in the Plateau (i.e. the Salween, Mekong, Yangtze River and Yarlung Tsangpo) and analyzed for Cu, Pb, Zn, Ag, Mo, Cd, Co, Cr, Ni, Li, Mn, Al, Fe, Mg and Hg. The results showed that elements such as Mg were rather high in Tibetan rivers, giving a mean electrical conductance of 36 mS/m. In a few locations, the results also showed relatively high concentrations of Al and Fe (>1 mg/L). However, the concentrations of Cu, Zn, Ag, Cd, and Cr were generally low. Contamination with Pb was identified at a few locations in the Salween and Ni at a few sites in the Yangtze River. For the first time, total dissolved metal contents in source water of four major Asian rivers were evaluated at the same time.