Distribution and fractionation of heavy metals in the Tisa (Tisza) River sediments

Research Articles Subject Area 1.2: Monitoring of Chemicals in Soils/Sediments



In this work, sediments of the River Tisa (Tisza) are studied to assess their environmental pollution levels for some major heavy metals, as well as to predict the investigated elements’ mobility on the basis of their association type with the substrate. The Tisa River catchments area is a subbasin of the River Danube. Part of this river, 166 km long, belongs to the Serbian province of Vojvodina, before it flows into the Danube. It has been chosen for our investigation, because it has been exposed to intense pollution in the last decades.

Materials and Methods

The river sediment samples were collected at 32 locations. The proportions of sand, silt and clay fractions were determined. The sequential extraction procedure following a modified Tessier method was applied for speciation of the metal forms in the collected samples. The metal concentrations of Zn, Cd, Pb, Ni, Cu, Cr, Fe and Mn in extracts were determined by atomic absorption spectroscopy.

Results and Discussion

Granulometric analysis showed that some 50% of the Tisa River sediments were silt and clay, while the rest was sand with quartz, as the main constituent. The average metal content of the surface river sediment samples for every fraction of sequential extraction was presented and discussed in relation to pH, Eh and metal fractionation. The average metal content from the Tisa River sediments, obtained as an average of the metal’s concentration released in all five sequential extraction fractions was compared with: average metal contents of the Tisa River sediments in Hungary, metal content in soils formed on the Tisa River alluvium of Vojvodina, average metal content in soils of Vojvodina, and average metal content in soils of Hungary. An assessment of metal pollution levels in Tisa River sediments was made by comparing mean values for obtained results for the Tisa River sediments with the freshwater sediment’s Quality Guidelines as published by US EPA, Environment Canada and soil standards for Serbia.


According to US EPA and Canadian Quality Guidelines for freshwater sediments, the concentration of heavy metals in Tisa sediments were: (a) much higher than defined concentrations below which harmful effects on river biota are unlikely to be observed, (b) below defined concentrations above which harmful effects on river biota are likely to be observed. The concentration levels of Pb, Ni, Cu and Cr in Tisa River sediments are safe when compared with Serbian MAQ (Maximum Allowed Quantity) standards for soils, but they are unsafe in the case of Zn and Cd.

Recommendations and Outlook

The quality of sediments in the Tisa River was on the border line between potentially polluted and polluted. This line could very easily be exceeded since the quality of sediments in the Tisa River in Hungary was already worse than in Serbia. These results indicated the need for further monitoring of heavy metals in that locality.


Chemical fractionation distribution heavy metals pollution sediments Tisa (Tisza) River 


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Copyright information

© ecomed publishers 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sanja Sakan
    • 1
  • Ivan Gržetić
    • 2
  • Dragana Đorđević
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryIChTMBelgradeSerbia and Montenegro
  2. 2.Faculty of ChemistryUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia and Montenegro

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