Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 4851–4859 | Cite as

Exploring river pollution based on sediment analysis in the Upper Tisza region (Hungary)

  • Zsuzsanna Balogh
  • Sándor Harangi
  • István Gyulai
  • Mihály Braun
  • Katalin Hubay
  • Béla Tóthmérész
  • Edina SimonEmail author
Research Article


We assessed contamination in the Upper Tisza region (Hungary, Central Europe), analyzing the elemental concentrations in sediment cores of oxbows. Our hypothesis was that the metal contamination which occurred in the year 2000 and which came from the mining area in Transylvania (Romania) may be detected even 15 years after the contamination, based on the vertical profile of sediment cores. Sediment cores were collected from five oxbows, and the following elements were measured with microwave plasma-atomic emission spectrometry (MP-AES): Cu, Cr, Ba, Fe, Mn, Pb, Sr, and Zn. Among the oxbows studied, there was one protected oxbow, three were used for fishing, and one was contaminated with sewage. Our results indicated that the year of contamination is still observable in the vertical profile of the sediment cores. The pollution index (PI) was used to characterize the sediment enrichment of metal elements in the sediment cores. In the case of Cu, Pb, and Zn, the contamination which originated in the year 2000 was detected in the layers of the sediment cores. The contamination levels of Cu, Pb, and Zn were high or moderate in the studied oxbows. All oxbows were moderately contaminated by Mn, while a moderate level of contamination was found for Fe in the protected oxbow, one fishing oxbow, and the sewage-contaminated oxbow. In the fishing oxbows, a low level of contamination was found for Fe. The contamination level of Sr was low in the protected oxbow and in the two fishing oxbows, while in one of the fishing oxbows and in the sewage-contaminated oxbow, a moderate level of Sr contamination was found. The pollution index scores indicated that the contamination level for Ba and Cr was low in the sediment cores of the oxbows studied. Our results indicated that the contamination of the Tisza River from the mining area in Northern Romania has been continuous and is still ongoing.


Vertical profile Sediment Pollution index Inorganic contamination 



The research was partially supported by an Internal Research Project of the University of Debrecen (E. Simon), by the TÁMOP 4.2.1/B-09/1/KONV-2010-0024 project, and by the SROP-4.2.2.B-15/1/KONV20150001 project. The support of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA K 116639) is gratefully acknowledged.


  1. Álvarez-Ayuso E, García-Sánchez A, Querol X, Moyano A (2008) Trace element mobility in soils seven years after the Aznalcóllar mine spill. Chemosphere 73:1240–1246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arain MB, Kazi TG, Jamali MK, Jalbani N, Afridi HI, Shah A (2008) Total dissolved and bioavailable elements in water and sediment samples and their accumulation in Oreochromis mossambicus of polluted Manchar Lake. Chemosphere 70:1845–1856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bengtsson L, Enell M (1986) Chemical analysis. In: Berglund BE (ed) Handbook of holocene palaeoecology and palaeohydrology. Wiley, Chichester, pp. 423–445Google Scholar
  4. Bird G, Brewer PA, Macklin MG, Balteanu D, Drigab B, Serbanb M, Zahariac S (2008) River system recovery following the Novat-Rosu tailings dam failure, Maramures County, Romania. Appl Geochem 23:3498–3518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen AS (2003) Paleolimnology. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Csedreki L, Csatári I, Sz S (2011) Study of heavy metal pollution of the Upper-Tisza floodplain using XRF techniques. Studia Universitatis Vasile Goldis Seria Stiintele Vietii 21:10–107Google Scholar
  7. Danielsson AE, Catob I, Carmanc R, Rahma L (1999) Spatial clustering of metals in the sediments of the Skagerrak/Kattegat. Appl Geochem 14:689–706CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Faiz Y, Tufail M, Javed MT, Chaudhry MM, Siddique N (2009) Road dust pollution of Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn along Islamabad Expressway, Pakistan. Microchem J 92:186–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fleit E, Lakatos G (2003) Accumulative heavy metal patterns in the sediment and biotic compartments of the Tisza watershed. Toxicol Lett 140–141:323–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Förstner U, Wittmann GTW (2012) Metal pollution in the aquatic environment. Second revised edition. SpringerGoogle Scholar
  11. Garrett RG (2000) Natural sources of metals to the environment. Human Ecol Risk Assess 6:945–963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gautam RK, Sharma SK, Mahiya S, Chattopadhyaya MC (2014) Contamination of heavy metals in aquatic media: transport, toxicity and technologies for remediation. In Water: presence, removal and safety. p 1–24. doi: 10.1039/9781782620174-00001
  13. Harikumar PS, Nasir UP (2010) Ecotoxicological impact assessment of heavy metals in core sediments of a tropical estuary. Ecotox Environ Safe 73:1742–1747CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harikumar PS, Nasir UP, Mujeebu Rahman MP (2009) Distribution of heavy metals in the core sediments of a tropical wetland system. Int J Environ Sci Technol 6:225–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Heiri O, Lotter AF, Lemcke G (2001) Loss on ignition as a method for estimating organic and carbonate content in sediments: reproducibility and comparability of results. J Paleolimnol 25:101–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hudson-Edwards KA, Jamieson HE, Charnock JM, Macklin MG (2005) Arsenic speciation in waters and sediment of ephemeral floodplain pools Ríos Agrio-Guadiamar, Aznalcóllar, Spain. Chem Geol 219:175–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kraft C, Tümpling W Jr, Zachmanna DW (2006) The effects of mining in Northern Romania on the heavy metal distribution in sediments of the rivers Szamos and Tisza (Hungary). Acta Hydrochim Hydrobiol 34:257–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lóczy D (2015) Landscapes and landforms of Hungary. Springer International Publishing, p 294Google Scholar
  19. Macklin MG, Brewer PA, Balteanu D, Coulthard TJ, Driga B, Howard AJ, Zaharia S (2003) The long term fate and environmental significance of contaminant metals released by the January and March 2000 mining tailings dam failures in Maramures County, upper Tisa Basin, Romania. Appl Geochem 18:241–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mages M, Ovari M, von Tuempling W, Kröpfl K (2004) Biofilms as bio-indicator for polluted waters? Total reflection X-ray fluorescence analysis of biofilms of the Tisza river (Hungary). Anal Bioanal Chem 378:1095–1101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Martin CW (2000) Heavy metal trends in floodplain sediments and valley fill, River Lahn, Germany. Catena 39:53–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Middelkoop H, Asselman NEM (1998) Spatial variability of floodplain sedimentation at the event scale in the Rhine-Meuse Delta, the Netherlands. Earth Surf Process Landforms 23:561–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nadia BE, Badr A, El-Fiky AA, Mostafa AR, Al-Mur BA (2009) Metal pollution records in core sediments of some Red Sea coastal areas, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Environ Monit Assess 155:509–526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nguyen HL, Braun M, Szaloki I, Baeyens W, Van Grieken R, Leermakers M (2009) Tracing the metal pollution history of the Tisza River through the analysis of a sediment depth profile. Water Air Soil Pollut 200:119–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Osán J, Kurunczi S, Török S, Van Grieken R (2002) X-ray analysis of river sediment of the Tisza (Hungary): identification of particles from a mine pollution event. Spectrochim Acta Part B 57:413–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Osán J, Török S, Alföldy B, Alsecz A, Falkenberg G, Baik SY, Van Grieken R (2007) Comparison of sediment pollution in the rivers of the Hungarian Upper Tisza Region using non-destructive analytical techniques. Spectrochimic Acta Part B 62:123–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Óvári M, Mages M, Woelfl S, von Tuempling W, Kröpfl K, Záray G (2004) Total reflection X-ray fluorescence spectrometric determination of element inlets from mining activities at the Upper Tisza catchment area, Hungary. Spectrochim Acta Part B 59:1173–1181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Papp I, Braun M, Szalóki I, Leermakers M (2007) Investigation of the effects of the Baia Borsa pollution event in the sediment of the Boroszlókert Oxbow Lake of the Tisza. Acta GGM Debrecina 2:181–186Google Scholar
  29. Prokisch J, Széles É, Kovács B, Győri Z, Németh T, West L, Harper S, Adriano D (2009) Sampling strategies for testing and evaluation of soil contamination in riparian systems at the Tisza River Basin, Hungary. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 40:391–406Google Scholar
  30. Renberg I, Wik-Persson M, Emteryd O (1993) Pre-industrial atmospheric lead contamination detected in Swedish lake sediments. Nature 368:323–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sakan S, Grzetic I, Dordevic D (2007) Distribution and fractionation of heavy metals in the Tisa (Tisza) river sediments. Env Sci Pollut Res 14:229–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sakan SM, Drodevic DS, Manojlovic DD, Predrag PS (2009) Assessment of heavy metal pollutants accumulation in the Tisza river sediments. J Environ Manag 90:3382–3390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Salimen R, Plant J, Reeder S (2006) Geochemical atlas of Europe. Part 1, Background information, methodology and maps. Geological Survey of Finland, EspooGoogle Scholar
  34. Seshan BRR, Natesan U, Deepthi K (2010) Geochemical and statistical approach for evaluation of heavy metal pollution in core sediments in southeast coast of India. Int J Environ Sci Technol 7:291–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Simon E, Vidic A, Braun M, Fábián I, Tóthmérész B (2013) Trace element concentrations in soils along urbanization gradients in the city of Wien, Austria. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20:917–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Simon E, Kis O, Jakab T, Kolozsvári I, Málnás K, Harangi S, Baranyai E, Miskolczi M, Tóthmérész B, Dévai G (2017) Assessment of contamination based on trace element concentrations in Gomphus flavipes (Odonata: insect) larvae of the Upper Tisza Region. Ecotox Environ Safe 136:55–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Szabó S, Gosztonyi G, Babaka B, Dócs N, Braun M, Csorba P, Türk G, Molnár LS, Bakos B, Szabó G, Futó I, Gönczy S, Ágoston C, Szabó M, Szabó G, Prokisch J (2010) GIS database of heavy metals in the floodplain of the Tisza river. Studia Universitatis Vasile Goldis Seria Stiintele Vietii 20:97–104Google Scholar
  38. Vass R, Szabo G, Szabo J (2010) Examination of sedimentary deposition in the active floodplains of Bereg-plain. Studia Universitatis Vasile Goldis Seria Stiintele Vietii 20:105–110Google Scholar
  39. Vinodhini R, Narayanan M (2008) Bioaccumulation of heavy metals in organs of fresh water fish Cyprinus carpio. Int J Environ Sc Tech 5:179–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Walling DE, He Q (1998) The spatial variability of overbank sedimentation on river floodplains. Geomorphology 24:209–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Walling DE, Owens PN, Carter J, Leeks GJL, Lewis S, Meharg AA, Wright J (2003) Storage of sediment-associated nutrients and contaminants in river channel and floodplains system. Appl Geochem 18:195–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wei B, Yang L (2010) A review of heavy metal contaminations in urban soils, urban road dusts and agricultural soils from China. Microchem J 94:99–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wood PJ, Armitage PD (1997) Biological effects of fine sediment in the lotic environment. Environ Manag 21:203–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zsuzsanna Balogh
    • 1
  • Sándor Harangi
    • 1
  • István Gyulai
    • 2
  • Mihály Braun
    • 3
  • Katalin Hubay
    • 3
  • Béla Tóthmérész
    • 4
  • Edina Simon
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of EcologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  2. 2.Department of HydrobiologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  3. 3.Institute of Nuclear Research of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hertelendi Laboratory of Environmental StudiesDebrecenHungary
  4. 4.MTA-DE Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Research GroupDebrecenHungary

Personalised recommendations