Contamination Assessment and Source Identification of Heavy Metals in River Sediments in Nantong, Eastern China

  • Shunsheng Huang
  • Jun TuEmail author
  • Yang Jin
  • Ming Hua
  • Xinmin Wu
  • WeiWei Xu
  • Yongbiao Yang
  • Haiou Wang
  • Yiming Su
  • Luming Cai
Research paper


Heavy metal pollution in river sediments caused by industrialization and urbanization is a pressing environmental issue around the world. This issue is more serious in the rapidly industrializing countries like China. In this study, the contamination and sources of nine metals (Al, As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn) in 134 river sediments in Nantong, Eastern China have been analyzed using various statistical and spatial analysis techniques. Contamination level assessments using enrichment factor (EF), geo-accumulation index (Igeo), and ecological risk index (RI) revealed that rivers suffer severe heavy metal pollutions, especially for Pb and Zn. Four main potential sources of the metals were identified using principal component analysis (PCA) and cluster analysis (CA). They are: (1) industrial sources contributing As, Cr, Pb, Zn, and partly Cu, (2) parent materials contributing Al, Ni, and partly Cu, (3) municipal and domestic wastes associated with Hg, and (4) excessive fertilizer application responsible for Cd. The potential sources were further verified by comparing their spatial distributions and the locations of the actual local sources using GIS (Geographic Information System)-based spatial analysis. The results are useful for environmental protection agencies to target corresponding pollution sources for the contaminations of specific heavy metals.


Heavy metal River sediments Multivariate analysis Geo-accumulation index Spatial analysis Eastern China 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© University of Tehran 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shunsheng Huang
    • 1
  • Jun Tu
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yang Jin
    • 1
  • Ming Hua
    • 1
  • Xinmin Wu
    • 1
  • WeiWei Xu
    • 1
  • Yongbiao Yang
    • 1
  • Haiou Wang
    • 1
  • Yiming Su
    • 1
  • Luming Cai
    • 1
  1. 1.Geological Survey of Jiangsu ProvinceNanjngChina
  2. 2.Department of Geography and AnthropologyKennesaw State UniversityKennesawUSA

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