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A Study on the Distribution and assessment of heavy metals in the surface sediment of Yellow River, China

Abstract

Large amounts of heavy metals discharged by industrial cities that are located along the middle reach of Yellow River, China have detrimental impacts on both the ecological environment and human health. In this study, fourteen surface sediment samples were taken in the middle reach of the Yellow River. Contents of Zn, Pb, Ni, Cu, Cr, Cd, As were measured, and the pollution status was assessed using three widely used pollution assessment methods, including the single factor index method, Nemerow pollution index method and potential ecological risk index. The concentrations of the studied heavy metals followed the order: Zn > Cr > Cu > Ni > Pb > As > Cd. Nearly 50% of sites had Cu and Cr accumulation. The concentration of Cu at the Yiluo River exceeded the secondary standard value of the Environmental quality standard for soils. Comparison of heavy metal concentrations between this study and other selected rivers indicated that Cu and Cr may be the major pollutants in our case. The single factor index indicated that many samples were at high levels of pollution for Cu and Cd; the Nemerow pollution index indicated that the Yihe River, Luohe River, Yiluo River and Huayuankou were polluted. According to the results of potential ecological risk assessment, Cd in the tributaries of Luo River, Yihe River, and Yiluo River showed high risk toward the ecosystem and human health, Cd in Huanyuankou and Cu in Yiluo River showed a middle level of risk and other samples were at a low level of risk.

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