Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 1725–1738 | Cite as

Impact of micro- and macroelement content on potential use of freshwater sediments (gyttja) derived from lakes of eastern Latvia

  • Zane Vincevica-GaileEmail author
  • Karina Stankevica
Original Paper


Organic-rich freshwater sediments formed from the remains of water plants, plankton and benthic organisms, which are transformed by microorganisms, and mixed with mineral components supplied from the lake basin, are known as gyttja (sapropel or dy). Gyttja is a valuable natural resource that can be used in various fields such as agriculture, forestry, construction, chemical industry, balneology and the latter ones are especially interested in chemical composition and safety of natural materials. The aim of the study was to investigate micro- and macro-element content of gyttja derived from lakes of eastern Latvia (north-east of Europe). Depending on composition, sediment samples were identified as peaty, various algae, green algae, diatom, carbonate and organic-silicate types of gyttja. Dried samples were wet-digested by heating in HNO3/H2O2 solution until complete mineralization. Sample solutions were analysed by atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) to detect concentration of Ca, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Na and Zn, but inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was applied for As, Ba, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Li, Ni, Pb, Rb, Se, Sr and V concentration measurements. Total content of elements was variable; higher macroelement concentration was detected for gyttja of carbonate type, but higher microelement concentration—for organic-silicate gyttja. As concentration of several elements was much lower than permitted by the European Union legislation, gyttja is not only safe, but also highly valuable resource applicable in organic agriculture. There is a potential to use gyttja as a peloid in health care, but element bioavailability should be estimated likewise.


Sapropel Sediment analysis and application Peloids Lake sediments Trace and major elements 



This study was supported by the European Social Fund Project “Interdisciplinary Team of Young Scientists for Assessment and Restoration of Soil Quality and Usage Potential in Latvia” (No. 2013/0020/1DP/


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of LatviaRigaLatvia

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