Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 30, pp 23939–23952 | Cite as

Distribution characteristics of heavy metal(loid)s in aggregates of different size fractions along contaminated paddy soil profile

Research Article


Soil aggregates exert a significant influence on the retention and availability of heavy metal(loid)s in soil. In this study, the concentration distribution and chemical forms of heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb, and Hg) and a metalloid (As) in different aggregate-sized fractions (2–0.25, 0.25–0.05, 0.05–0.002, and < 0.002 mm) along the profile (0–1, 1–5, 5–15, and 15–25 cm) of a contaminated paddy field were investigated. The results showed that the values of pH, free Fe oxides (Fed), bulk density, and catalase activity gradually increased, whereas the soil organic matter (SOM), cation exchange capacity (CEC), electrical conductivity (EC), microbial biomass carbon (MBC), and urease activity decreased with depth. Long-term heavy metal pollution might impact the catalase activity but showed no obvious influence on the urease activity. Additionally, there was a notable difference in physicochemical properties among the soil aggregates of various particle sizes. The 2–0.25-mm fraction aggregates contained more organic matter, whereas the highest values of CEC and Fed were observed in the < 0.002-mm fraction. The concentrations of all six heavy metals/metalloid decreased with depth. In different layers, Cu and Cd showed the highest concentrations in the 2–0.25 mm-fraction, followed by the < 0.002-mm fraction, whereas the highest concentrations of Zn, Pb, and As appeared in the < 0.002-mm fraction. No obvious distribution regularity was observed for Hg among the aggregates. All of the metal(loid)s had lower activity in the deeper soil layers, except for Hg. Furthermore, Cu and Cd displayed more stable forms in the < 0.002-mm fraction aggregates.


Paddy soil profile Heavy metal(loid)s Aggregates BCR method Soil enzyme Smelting plant 



This work was supported by the GDAS’ Special Project of Science and Technology Development (2017GDASCX-0830), the Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41701320, 41501298 and 51521006), the High-level Leading Talent Introduction Program (2060599), the SPICC Program (The Scientific Platform and Innovation Capability Construction Program of GDAS, 2016GDASPT-0105 and 0304), the Construction of Innovative Talents for Pollution Control and Management of Heavy Metals in Farmland (2016B070701015), and Key Research Items in Science and Technology Program from China Hunan Provincial Science and Technology Department (No. 2015SK2004). We would like to thank Ninglin Luo, Qiu Zhang, Mei Huang, and Xiuqing Zhai of Hunan University for the sampling and laboratory analysis.

Compliance with ethical standards

The manuscript has not been submitted to more than one journal for simultaneous consideration and has not been published previously (partly or in full).

A single study is not split up into several parts to increase the quantity of submissions and submitted to various journals or to one journal over time.

No data have been fabricated or manipulated (including images) to support the conclusions.

No data, text, or theories by others are presented as if they were our own. Proper acknowledgements have been given, quotation marks are used for verbatim copying of material, and permissions are secured for material that is copyrighted.

Consent to submit has been received explicitly from all co-authors.

Authors whose names appear on the submission have contributed sufficiently to the scientific work and therefore share collective responsibility and accountability for the results.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangdong Key Laboratory of Integrated Agro-environmental Pollution Control and ManagementGuangdong Institute of Eco-environmental Science & TechnologyGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringHunan UniversityChangshaChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Environment Biology and Pollution Control (Hunan University)Ministry of EducationChangshaChina
  4. 4.Ministry of Environment ProtectionSouth China Institute of Environmental ScienceGuangzhouChina
  5. 5.Department of Soil and Water ConservationYangtze River Scientific Research InstituteWuhanChina

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