Environmental Earth Sciences

, 78:101 | Cite as

Ecological risk by heavy metal contents in sediments within the Wei River Basin, China

  • Tao YangEmail author
  • Jia Chen
  • Xiaoping Li
  • Ting Wu
  • Zhaojun Hu
  • Shuo Wang
Original Article


The Wei River is the largest tributary of the Huang River, which is the second largest river in China. This study aimed to determine pollution and risk assessment of heavy metals, including chromium (Cr), lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), arsenic (As), mercury (Hg), and cadmium (Cd), in 12 selected stations of the Wei River Basin, Northwest China. Results indicated that the pollution and potential risk in Weijiabao are more severe than the other 11 cross sections. The concentrations and potential ecological risk of Pb and Hg and Cr, Pb, Zn, As, and Hg were observed in moderately contaminated and considerable risk levels given industrial wastewater discharge, correspondingly. For the single element, the relative contaminated status and potential risk levels for Cr, Pb, Zn, As, and Hg were Zn > Hg > Cr > Pb > As and Hg > Pb > As > Cr > Zn, respectively. The Cr in sediments may derive from agricultural activities given the utilization of chemical fertilizers, whereas Pb, Zn, and As may derive from industrial wastewater and sewage sludge. Metal melting wastewater in the upper reach and paper mill and textile process wastewater in the middle reach of the Wei River should be disposed of and should satisfy the corresponding criteria of the Integrated Wastewater Discharge Standard (GB8978-2002). Furthermore, a scientific application of chemical fertilizers in the Jing and Beiluo Rivers should be implemented in the reach.


Wei River Basin Sediment Heavy metal Potential ecological risk 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41571512, 41471420), the Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi Province (2015JM4124), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (GK201701010).

Author contributions

TY, JC, XL, and TW are the main contributors to this study. ZH and SW have contributed in the field investigation and experimentation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tao Yang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jia Chen
    • 1
  • Xiaoping Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ting Wu
    • 1
  • Zhaojun Hu
    • 1
  • Shuo Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Geography and TourismShaanxi Normal UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.International Joint Research Centre of Shaanxi Province for Pollutant Exposure and Eco-environmental HealthXi’anPeople’s Republic of China

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