Ecological risk assessment of heavy metals sampled in sediments and water of the Houjing River, Taiwan

  • Chi Thanh Vu
  • Chitsan Lin
  • Kim Anh Nguyen
  • Chien-Chuan Shern
  • Yi-Ming Kuo
Original Article


The Houjing River flows through Kaohsiung, the most industrialized city in southern Taiwan. In this study, heavy metal concentrations in water and sediments from samples along the river were investigated to illustrate metal contamination levels and call for the awareness of industrial pollution prevention. The heavy metal concentrations in the water samples were low and appear to pose little direct risk to aquatic life and irrigation, but heavy metal concentrations in the sediments are locally very high and present an environmental risk. Cadmium, Cu, and Zn were found in higher concentrations in the river sediments than those recommended in some sediment quality guidelines and findings of river sediments in similar studies worldwide. Hence, the ecological risk of heavy metal contamination in sediments was assessed using the pollution load index (PLI) and potential ecological risk index (RI). Three of the eleven sites sampled were found to have PLI values higher than 1 and 8 of them had ‘considerable’ to ‘very high’ RI values, suggesting a considerable ecological risk. These findings provide an insight into elemental metal contamination of the Houjing River and present a baseline data set, which will be critical for future development and environmental protection plans devised for the region.


Water quality parameters Sedimentary heavy metal contamination Monitoring and pollution control plans 



The authors acknowledge the enthusiastic assistance of the sampling and analysis staff at the Center of Environmental Analysis Services (CEAS), National Kaohsiung Marine University. The authors appreciate the reviewers whose knowledgeable comments and suggestions have largely contributed to the improvement of the quality of our work.

Supplementary material

12665_2018_7573_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 20 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine Environmental EngineeringNational Kaohsiung Marine UniversityKaohsiungTaiwan, ROC
  2. 2.Department of Safety Health and Environmental EngineeringChung Hwa University of Medical TechnologyTainan CountyTaiwan, ROC

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