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IJERPH, Vol. 12, Pages 8243-8262: Assessing the Variability of Heavy Metal Concentrations in Liquid-Solid Two-Phase and Related Environmental Risks in the Weihe River of Shaanxi Province, China

17 Jul 2015

Accurate estimation of the variability of heavy metals in river water and the hyporheic zone is crucial for pollution control and environmental management. The biotoxicities and potential ecological risks of heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd) in a solid-liquid two-phase system were estimated using the Geo-accumulation Index, Potential Ecological Risk Assessment and Quality Standard Index methods in the Weihe River of Shaanxi Province, China. Water and sediment samples were collected from five study sites during spring, summer and winter, 2013. The dominant species in the streambed sediments were chironomids and flutter earthworm, whose bioturbation mainly ranged from 0 to 20 cm. The concentrations of heavy metals in surface water and pore water varied obviously in spring and summer. The degrees of concentration of Cu and Cd in spring and summer were higher than the U.S. water quality Criteria Maximum Concentrations. Furthermore, the biotoxicities of Pb and Zn demonstrated season-spatial variations. The concentrations of Cu, Zn, Pb and Cd in spring and winter were significantly higher than those in summer, and the pollution levels also varied obviously in different layers of the sediments. Moreover, the pollution level of Cd was the most serious, as estimated by all three assessment methods.

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