Heavy metal distribution and water quality characterization of water bodies in Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain Basin, USA

  • Zengqiang ZhangEmail author
  • Jim J. WangEmail author
  • Amjad Ali
  • Ronald D. DeLaune


The seasonal variation in physico-chemical properties, anions, and the heavy metal (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn) concentration was evaluated in water from nine different rivers in Lake Pontchartrain Basin, Louisiana, USA. The water quality parameters were compared with toxicity reference values (TRV), US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) drinking/aquatic life protection, and WHO standards. Among physico-chemical properties, pH, DO, and turbidity were high during spring, while, EC, temperature, and DOC were high during summer and vice versa. The anion study revealed that the concentrations of F, Cl, and NO3 were higher during summer and Br and SO4 were higher during spring. Our research findings showed anion concentration decreased in the order of Cl > SO4  > NO3  > Br > F, in accordance with the global mean anion concentration. The dissolved heavy metals (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb) except Zn were higher during spring than summer. None of the rivers showed any Cd pollution for both seasons. Co showed higher concentrations in Amite River, Mississippi River, Industrial Canal, and Lacombe Bayou during summer. The Cr concentration was higher than WHO drinking water standards, implicating water unsuitability for drinking purposes in all the rivers associated with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin. Cu showed no pollution risk for the study area. Mn and Co were similar to concentration in Lacombe Bayou, Liberty Bayou, Blind River, and Industrial Canal. Mn levels were greater than WHO standards for the Tickfaw River, Tangipahoa River, and Blind River in both seasons. Blind River, Tangipahoa River, Tickfaw River, and Amite River will require more monitoring for determining possible Mn pollution. Ni content in river water during both seasons showed low pollution risk. Liberty Bayou and Industrial Canal concentrations were closer to the WHO regulatory standards, indicating possible risk of Pb pollution in these water bodies. The Zn content was near the USEPA aquatic life standards in summer for all water bodies. None of the rivers showed any risk associated with Cd, Co, Cu, and Ni levels but medium to higher risk to aquatic life from Cr and Zn for both seasons for most of the rivers. Metal fractionation revealed the decreasing order of inert > labile > organic. The high inert fraction in the rivers under study reflects the major contribution of natural sources in Lake Pontchartrain Basin. The labile and organic forms of Cd, Cu, Ni, and Zn pose potential higher risk to the aquatic life in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.


Heavy metals Anions Water quality Lake Pontchartrain 



The project was conducted at School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, Louisiana State University AgCenter. This work was partly supported by a grant through the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (no. 06-07NOAA-06-A3).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Natural Resources and EnvironmentNorthwest A&F UniversityShaanxiChina
  2. 2.School of Plant, Environmental, and Soil SciencesLouisiana State University AgCenterBaton RougeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of Coast and EnvironmentLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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