Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 11, pp 10335–10348 | Cite as

Occurrence, spatial distribution, sources, and risks of polychlorinated biphenyls and heavy metals in surface sediments from a large eutrophic Chinese lake (Lake Chaohu)

  • Wei He
  • Ze-Lin Bai
  • Wen-Xiu Liu
  • Xiang-Zhen Kong
  • Bin Yang
  • Chen Yang
  • Sven Erik Jørgensen
  • Fu-Liu XuEmail author
Recent sediments: environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology and engineering


Surface sediment from large and eutrophic Lake Chaohu was investigated to determine the occurrence, spatial distribution, sources, and risks of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals in one of the five biggest freshwater lakes in China. Total concentration of PCBs (Σ34PCBs) in Lake Chaohu was 672 pg g−1 dry weight (dw), with a range of 7 to 3999 pg g−1 dw, which was lower than other water bodies worldwide. The majority of heavy metals were detected at all sampling locations, except for Sr, B, and In. Concentrations of Al, Fe, Ca, Mn, Sr, Co, Zn, Cd, Pb, and Hg were similar to that reported for other lakes globally. Concentrations of K, Mg, Na, Li, Ga, and Ag were greater than the average, whereas those of Cr, Ni, and Cu were lower. Cluster analysis (CA) and positive matrix factorization (PMF) yielded accordant results for the source apportionment of PCBs. The technical PCBs and microbial degradation accounted for 34.2 % and 65.8 % of total PCBs using PMF, and PMF revealed that natural and anthropogenic sources of heavy metals accounted for 38.1 % and 61.8 %, respectively. CA indicated that some toxic heavy metals (e.g., Cd, In, Tl, and Hg) were associated with Ca–Na–Mg minerals rather than Fe–Mn minerals. The uncorrelated results between organic matter revealed by pyrolysis technology and heavy metals might be caused by the existence of competitive adsorption between organic matter and minerals. PCBs and heavy metals were coupling discharge without organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), but with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). No sediment sample exceeded the toxic threshold for dioxin-like PCBs (dl-PCBs) set at 20 pg toxicity equivalency quantity (TEQ) g−1, (max dl-PCBs, 10.9 pg TEQ g−1). However, concentrations of Ag, Cd, and Hg were at levels of environmental concern. The sediment in the drinking water source area (DWSA) was threatened by heavy metals from other areas, and some fundamental solutions were proposed to protect the DWSA.


Polychlorinated biphenyls Heavy metals Occurrence Spatial distribution Risks Lake Chaohu Positive matrix factorization (PMF) Surface sediment 



The funding for this study was provided by the National Project for Water Pollution Control (2012ZX07103-002) and the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC; 41503083, 41271462, 41030529). This work is also supported by a grant from the 111 Project (B14001).

Supplementary material

11356_2015_6001_MOESM1_ESM.docx (552 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 552 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei He
    • 1
  • Ze-Lin Bai
    • 1
  • Wen-Xiu Liu
    • 1
  • Xiang-Zhen Kong
    • 1
  • Bin Yang
    • 1
  • Chen Yang
    • 1
  • Sven Erik Jørgensen
    • 3
  • Fu-Liu Xu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.MOE Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, College of Urban and Environmental SciencesPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Water SciencesPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Section of Toxicology and Environmental Chemistry, Institute AUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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