Enrichment, risk assessment, and statistical apportionment of heavy metals in tannery-affected areas

  • Z. Ali
  • R. N. MalikEmail author
  • Z. K. Shinwari
  • A. Qadir
Original Paper


Tannery-affected surface soils from 72 sampling sites from industrial area of Sialkot district, Pakistan, were collected and analyzed for nine physicochemical parameters, nine heavy metals, and four macro-nutrients. Most of the soils were poor in organic matter (0.11–2.98 %), basic in nature with pH (7.1–10.6) and electrical conductivity (1.2–17.9 mS/cm). Mean concentration of total dissolved solids, Cl1−, alkalinity, NO 3 1 -N, salinity, and PO4 3− was 3,093 mg/L, 6,587, 3,929, 301.3, 10.3, and 1.7 mg/kg. The results showed that concentration of macro-nutrients was in the order: Na>Mg>K>Ca whereas heavy metals followed the order: Cr>Fe>Ni>Mn>Cu>Zn>Co>Pb>Cd. Factor analysis based on principal component analysis, cluster analysis, and correlation analysis identified contribution of metals from tannery effluents, agrochemicals, automobiles exhaust, and natural weathering processes. Tannery-affected soils were enriched with Cd followed by Cr, Pb, Ni, Cu, Co, Zn, and Mn. Geo-accumulation index (I geo) classified the soil samples in unpolluted to moderately polluted categories. Metal pollution index provided better estimation of heavy metal pollution as compared to pollution load index. Ecological risk index showed high potential ecological risk associated with Cd and Cr with mean concentrations above respective average shale/background values. The results are useful for heavy metals source identification, enrichment, risk assessment, and management of tannery-affected soils and can contribute to monitoring programs at regional levels.


Cluster analysis Ecological risk index Enrichment indices Factor analysis Geo-accumulation 



We are thankful to the reviewers for their constructive comments and valuable suggestions, which greatly improved the manuscript’s quality. We also gratefully acknowledge the Faculty of Biological Sciences for provision of metal analysis facilities and Pakistan Wetlands Programme for transport facility.


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Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Z. Ali
    • 1
  • R. N. Malik
    • 2
    Email author
  • Z. K. Shinwari
    • 3
  • A. Qadir
    • 4
  1. 1.Environmental Biology Laboratory, Department of Plant Sciences, Faculty of Biological SciencesQuaid-i-Azam UniversityIslamabadPakistan
  2. 2.Environmental Biology and Ecotoxicology Laboratory, Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Biological SciencesQuaid-i-Azam UniversityIslamabadPakistan
  3. 3.Department of Biotechnology and Bio-informatics, Faculty of Biological SciencesQuaid-i-Azam UniversityIslamabadPakistan
  4. 4.College of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of the Punjab, Quaid-e-Azam campusLahorePakistan

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