Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 9122–9133 | Cite as

Distribution, speciation, environmental risk, and source identification of heavy metals in surface sediments from the karst aquatic environment of the Lijiang River, Southwest China

  • Daoquan Xu
  • Yinghui WangEmail author
  • Ruijie Zhang
  • Jing Guo
  • Wei Zhang
  • Kefu YuEmail author
Research Article


The distribution and speciation of several heavy metals, i.e., As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Pb, and Zn, in surface sediments from the karst aquatic environment of the Lijiang River, Southwest China, were studied comparatively. The mean contents of Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb, and Zn were 1.72, 38.07, 0.18, 51.54, and 142.16 mg/kg, respectively, which were about 1.5–6 times higher than their corresponding regional sediment background values. Metal speciation obtained by the optimized BCR protocol highlighted the bioavailable threats of Cd, Cu, and Zn, which were highly associated with the exchangeable fraction (the labile phase). Hierarchical cluster analysis indicated that in sediments, As and Cr were mainly derived from natural and industrial sources, whereas fertilizer application might lead to the elevated level of Cd. Besides, Cu, Hg, Pb, and Zn were related to traffic activities. The effects-based sediment quality guidelines (SQGs) showed that Hg, Pb, and Zn could pose occasional adverse effects on sediment-dwelling organisms. However, based on the potential ecological risk assessment (PER) and risk assessment code (RAC), Cd was the most outstanding pollutant and posed the highest ecological hazard and bioavailable risk among the selected metals. Moreover, the metal partitioning between water and sediments was quantified through the calculation of the pseudo-partitioning coefficient (K P), and result implied that the sediments in this karst aquatic environment cannot be used as stable repositories for the metal pollutants.


Heavy metal Karst river Sediment analysis Environmental risk Source identification Metal partitioning 



This work was supported by the National Key Basic Research Program of China (2013CB956102), Guangxi Natural Science Fund Project (2013GXNSFEA053001), National Natural Science Foundation of China (41473118, 41273139), BaGui Scholars Program Foundation, and Guilin Scientific & Technological Projects (20130116-2).

Supplementary material

11356_2016_6147_MOESM1_ESM.docx (507 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 507 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Marine SciencesGuangxi UniversityNanningChina
  2. 2.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringGuangxi UniversityNanningChina
  3. 3.Coral Reef Research Center of ChinaGuangxi UniversityNanningChina

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