Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 190, Issue 1–4, pp 115–127 | Cite as

Mercury and Arsenic Bioaccumulation and Eutrophication in Baiyangdian Lake, China

  • C. Y. Chen
  • P. C. Pickhardt
  • M. Q. Xu
  • C. L. Folt


Hg and As are widespread contaminants globally and particularly in Asia. We conducted a field study in Baiyangdian Lake, the largest lake in the North China Plain, to investigate bioaccumulation and trophic transfer of potentially toxic metals (total mercury and arsenic) in sites differing in proximity from the major point sources of nutrients and metals. Hg concentrations in fish and As concentrations in water are above critical threshold levels (US Environmental Protection Agency based) considered to pose some risk to humans and wildlife. Hg concentrations in biota are within the range of concentrations in lakes in the Northeast US despite the high levels of Hg emission and deposition in China whereas As concentrations are much higher. Dissolved concentrations of both Hg and As decrease with increasing chlorophyll concentrations suggesting that there is significant uptake of metal from water by algae. These results provide evidence for algal blooms controlling dissolved metal concentrations and potentially mitigating the trophic transfer of Hg to fish. This study also underscores the need for further investigation into this contaminated ecosystem and others like it in China that are an important source of fish and drinking water for consumption by local human populations.


Mercury Arsenic Bioaccumulation Lake Eutrophication China 



We are grateful to Shenggui Chen and Meixun Zhao for their assistance in making logistical arrangements and participating in field sampling. We thank Brandon Mayes for his help in processing samples for metal analysis, and Stefan Sturup for the metal analyses of plankton and fish samples. We also thank Karen Baumgartner for taxonomic identification and quantification of phytoplankton samples and Mike Poage for the analysis of carbon stable isotope in biotic samples. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation International Programs Office, the NIH Grant Number P42 ESO7373 (to C.L.F. and C.Y.C.) from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and logistical support from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Zoology.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Y. Chen
    • 1
  • P. C. Pickhardt
    • 2
  • M. Q. Xu
    • 3
  • C. L. Folt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  2. 2.Lakeland CollegeSheboyganUSA
  3. 3.Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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