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Occurrence and risk assessment of heavy metals in sediments of the Xiangjiang River, China

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Sediment samples were collected from 22 typical metal-polluted sections along the Xiangjiang River (XJR). Spatial distribution and speciation characteristics of heavy metals in sediments of XJR were determined. Furthermore, ecological risk and enrichment degree of metals were assessed by different indices. The results showed that combined metal pollution occurred in sediments of XJR, with content range of Cd, Pb, Zn, Cu, As, Mn, Cr, and Hg reaching 2.95–29.15, 30.93–235.83, 61.50–3771.11, 9.56–81.81, 3.93–46.28, 774.83–8700.72, 10.64–65.16, and 0.13–5.09 mg kg−1, respectively. Pollution levels increased in period of industrialization but decreased after thousands of pollution enterprises were banned. Sections with serious pollution and higher risk were mainly located at Hengyang and Chang-Zhu-Tan regions (Changsha, Zhuzhou, and Xiangtan) for contaminations of Cd, As, Pb, and Hg. Values of both enrichment factor and geo-accumulation index followed the order Cd > Hg > Zn > Mn > Pb > Cu > As > Cr. Bioavailable fractions followed the order Cd (66.93 %), Zn (33.80 %), Pb (30.81 %), Mn (18.38 %), Hg (17.58 %), Cu (10.20 %), As (9.81 %), and Cr (7.65 %). Considering their bioavailability, biotoxicity, or abundance, contamination of Cd was the most dominant, and pollution of other metals should not be ignored.

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This study is funded by “the International Cooperative Project” of the Key Technology Study and Demonstration for Preventing and Controlling External Pollutants of the Dongjiang Lake (2013DFG91190) and the “twelfth Five-Year Plan” of the National Science and Technology Major Project (2013ZX07504-001-01). The helpful comments from anonymous reviewers are gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Youzhi Dai.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Liu, J., Xu, Y., Cheng, Y. et al. Occurrence and risk assessment of heavy metals in sediments of the Xiangjiang River, China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24, 2711–2723 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-8044-8

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  • Heavy metals
  • Sediments
  • Distribution
  • Risk assessment
  • Xiangjiang River