Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 52–68 | Cite as

Concentrations and transport of trace metals in the St. Lawrence River

  • Bernadette Quémerais
  • Ken R. Lum
  • Claire Lemieux


Samples of raw water were collected in the St. Lawrence River during six sampling trips from August 1990 to April 1992. Water samples were analyzed for both dissolved and particulate phases for five trace metals. Partition coefficients (Kd) and metal fluxes were calculated in order to determine metal transport. A mass balance equation was used for the determination of the major metal sources to the St. Lawrence River and an estimation of metal loadings to the estuary was made. Average dissolved metal concentrations were found to be Cd 10 ng/L, Co 74 ng/L, Cu 64 ng/L, Fe 69 µg/L and Mn 700 ng/L. Particulate concentrations were (in µg/g) 1.68 for Cd, 31 for Co, 73 for Cu, 25 mg/g for Fe and 1.69 mg/g for Mn. Co, Fe and Mn were transported essentially in the particulate phase while Cd and Cu were predominantly found in the dissolved phase at 56% and 48% of the total metal concentration respectively. Log Kd values varied from 5.1 (for Cu) to 6.8 (for Mn). In the dissolved phase the major sources were found to be the Great Lakes and the Ottawa River whereas in the particulate phase Québec tributaries appear to be the most important. Industrial inputs are quite important in both the dissolved and the particulate phases for Cd, whereas other sources are very variable, especially for the dissolved phase.

Key words

Trace metals St. Lawrence River freshwater metal partitioning dissolved metals 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernadette Quémerais
    • 1
  • Ken R. Lum
    • 1
  • Claire Lemieux
    • 1
  1. 1.Aquatic Environment ContaminationCentre Saint-Laurent, Environment CanadaMontréalCanada

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