Assessment of loose and adhered urban street sediments and trace metals: a study in the city of Poços de Caldas, Brazil
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This study aims to quantify and characterise sediments accumulated in the street gutters in an urban area of Poços de Caldas, Brazil. The main research questions are: What type of urban areas, e.g. those under construction, produce most sediments and what are the main characteristics of such sediments? What differences, e.g. granulometry, can be found in loose and adhered sediments? What trace metals can be found in the sediments?
Materials and methods
Fieldwork was carried out in a residential area of Poços de Caldas, Brazil. Ten samplings were conducted between May and August 2013 to collect sediments from road gutters. The collected sediments were then divided into ‘loose’ and ‘adhered’, depending on whether they were collected in a first, gentle, sweeping with soft bristled brush or in a subsequent sweeping with a stiff bristled brush. Granulometric curves were drawn for both types of sediments. Fine sediment analyses (≤63 μm) were performed on samples from the last five samplings. Two techniques were used to look for trace elements: energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) and inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES).
Results and discussion
Larger amounts of sediments were collected after lower intensity rainfall events. Higher intensity events seemed to wash the sediments away. A correlation was found between areas under construction and sediment mass production. A characteristic range of granulometries (medium sand), found in our study is in accordance with studies by other authors. An important presence of heavy metals (Cr, Cd, Pb, Zn, Ni and Cu) was detected and characterised. As and Sn were also detected even though they are not often mentioned in the literature on urban soil pollutants.
Areas under construction were found to produce more sediments than other areas. The trace metals found in highest concentrations were Pb and As. The heavy metal concentration decreases after wet periods, showing that they are carried by runoff. It is expected that this study may serve as an input for establishing diffuse pollution control and mitigation strategies for the accumulation of pollutants in the urban environment.
KeywordsDiffuse pollution Heavy metals Land use changes Sediment production Trace elements Urbanisation
The present study had the support of Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior-Brasil (CAPES) under the program ‘Ciência sem Fronteiras (CSF)’, project n.88881.030412/2013-01.
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