Vertical profile, contamination assessment of mercury and arsenic in sediment cores from typical intertidal zones of China

  • Chenchen Wang
  • Dawei PanEmail author
  • Haitao Han
  • Xueping Hu


The vertical profiles, contamination levels, and potential ecological risks of mercury and arsenic were studied from the sediment cores of seven typical intertidal zones, including the Liaohe River Estuary, the Jianhe River Estuary, the Dagu River Estuary, Yancheng Shoal, the Dongtan Yangtze River Estuary, Hangzhou Bay, and the Pearl River Estuary. Marine sediment quality standards, the threshold effect level (TEL), and the probable effect level (PEL) were used as guidelines to evaluate sediment quality. In addition, the geo-accumulation index (Igeo) and potential ecological risk index (\( {E}_r^i \)) were used to assess contamination and potential ecological risks from mercury and arsenic. The results showed that the Pearl River Estuary was moderately polluted by mercury and represented a high potential ecological risk, while other areas were uncontaminated or mildly contaminated with low or moderate potential ecological risks. The Pearl River Estuary was mildly polluted by arsenic and represented a mild potential ecological risk, while other areas were unpolluted and also posed a mild potential ecological risk.


Mercury Arsenic Sediment cores Contamination assessment Intertidal zones 



This research was financially supported by the Youth Innovation Promotion Association (2011170) and the Equipment Development Project (YZ201558) of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Basic Survey of the Ministry of Science and Technology (2014FY10600). We thank MogoEdit for its linguistic assistance during the preparation of this manuscript. Additionally, the concentration of TOC and the sedimentation rate in sediment cores of this study and the grain size in sediment cores of the Dongtan Yangtze River Estuary and Hangzhou Bay are provided by Prof. Dongqi Wang (East China Normal University). The grain size in sediment cores of Liaohe River Estuary, the Jianhe River Estuary, and Yancheng Shoal are provided by Dr. Aiping Feng and Dr. Peng Xia (State Oceanic Administration). The grain size in sediment cores of the Dagu River Estuary are provided by Dr. Guohua Hou (Qingdao Institute of Marine Geology). The grain size in sediment cores of the Pearl River Estuary are provided by Prof. Dongyan Liu (East China Normal University) and Dr. Yujue Wang (Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone Research). We thank these participators for the supply of the data, which make this study more integrated and more meaningful.

Supplementary material

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Coastal Environmental Processes and Ecological RemediationYantai Institute of Coastal zone Research, Chinese Academy of SciencesYantaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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