Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 1183–1193 | Cite as

Multivariate statistical techniques for evaluating and identifying the environmental significance of heavy metal contamination in sediments of the Yangtze River, China

  • Lan Wang
  • Yaping Wang
  • Wenzhao Zhang
  • Chunxue Xu
  • Ziyi An
Original Article


The concentrations of heavy metals (Cr, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd, As, Hg, and Fe) in sediments of the Yangtze River, China, were investigated to evaluate levels of contamination and their potential sources. The lowest heavy metal concentrations were found in the source regions of the river basin. Relatively high concentrations of metals, except Cr, were found in the Sichuan Basin, and the highest concentrations were in the Xiangjiang and Shun’anhe rivers. All concentrations, except Ni, were higher than global averages. Principal component analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis showed that Zn, Pb, As, Hg, and Cd were derived mainly from the exploitation of various multi-metal minerals, industrial wastewater, and domestic sewage. Cu, Co, and Fe were derived mainly from natural weathering (erosion). Cr and Ni were derived mainly from agricultural activities, municipal and industrial wastewater. Sediment pollution was assessed using the geoaccumulation index (I geo) and enrichment factor (EF). Among the ten heavy metals assessed, Cd and Pb had the highest I geo values, followed by Cu, As, Zn, and Hg. The I geo values of Fe, Cr, Co, and Ni were <0 in all sediments. EF provided similar information to I geo: no enrichment was found for Cr, Co, and Ni. Cu, Zn, As, and Hg were relatively enriched at some sites while Cd and Pb showed significant enrichment.


Multivariate statistical techniques Heavy metals Yangtze River (ChangjiangSediment contamination 



We thank the Land and Resources Survey Project of the Chinese Geological Survey (GZTR20060201, GZTR20070201, GZTR20050201) and the Postdoctoral Fund of the Gold Geological Institute of China Armed Police Force for their financial support.

Supplementary material

12665_2013_2522_MOESM1_ESM.doc (158 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 158 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lan Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yaping Wang
    • 3
  • Wenzhao Zhang
    • 1
  • Chunxue Xu
    • 3
  • Ziyi An
    • 3
  1. 1.Gold Geological Institute of China Armed Police ForceLangfangChina
  2. 2.Institute of Earth SciencesChina University of GeosciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.National Research Center for GeoanalysisBeijingChina

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