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Spatial distribution and ecotoxicological risk assessment of heavy metals in surface sediments of the southern Bohai Bay, China

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The concentrations of heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn) and organic carbon in surface sediments, collected from the southern Bohai Bay, were determined to assess the potential contamination and determine the environmental risks associated with heavy metals. Results showed that heavy metal concentrations in the sediments generally met the China Marine Sediment Quality criteria. Both the ecotoxicological index and the potential ecological risk index suggest that the combined ecological risk of the six studied metals may be low, with the highest ecotoxicological potential zones located in the offshore area. The methods of enrichment factor and geoaccumulation index suggested that elevated concentrations of Cd, Cr, and Ni are presented in the region. Multivariate analysis also indicated that the lithogenic factor dominates the distribution of most part of the considered metals in the study area, whereas Cd and Cr are clearly influenced by anthropogenic inputs. The results of this study are likely to be a useful tool to authorities in charge of sustainable marine management.

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We would like to thank the Editor Stuart Simpson and three anonymous reviewers for their thorough and thoughtful reviews of the manuscript. This work was jointly supported by the Project of State Oceanic Administration, China (no. 908-01-CJ04), the Marine Public Welfare Research Project (grant no. 200805063), National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 41206049, 40976036 and 40906033), Open Foundation of the State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology (grant no. SKLLQG1107), and Open Foundation of the Key Laboratory of Marine Hydrocarbon Resources and Environmental Geology (grant no. MRE201231).

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Correspondence to Guogang Li.

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Responsible editor: Stuart Simpson

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Hu, B., Li, G., Li, J. et al. Spatial distribution and ecotoxicological risk assessment of heavy metals in surface sediments of the southern Bohai Bay, China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20, 4099–4110 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-012-1332-z

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  • Heavy metal contamination
  • Sediment quality guidelines
  • Multivariate statistics
  • Bohai Bay