Distribution and risk assessment of trace metals in riverine surface sediments in gold mining area

  • Jiangmin Song
  • Qunqun Liu
  • Yanqing ShengEmail author


Recognizing the pollution characteristics and potential risks of trace metals in sediments are important to protect water ecosystem safety. In the present study, a systematic investigation was performed to assess the pollution and risk level of trace metals in river sediments located in the greatest gold production base in China. The geo-accumulation index was used to assess the contamination degree. The sediment quality guidelines and potential ecological risk index were employed to complete an ecological risk assessment. A non-carcinogenic health risk assessment was also carried out to evaluate potential adverse health risks. Correlations and principal component analyses were applied to check relationships among trace metals and ascertain potential pollution sources. The results suggested that the sediments in the river were most polluted by As, Cd, and Hg followed by Cu, Pb, and Zn. The assessment of potential human health risk revealed that there was no significant non-carcinogenic risk to the inhabitants. Gold mining and smelting activities and the long-term excessive application of fertilizers and agrochemicals were identified as the main anthropogenic releases. This study contributed an understanding that possible sources, contamination degree, and ecological risk level of trace metals in riverine surface sediments in a gold mining area.


Gold mining Sediment Trace metals Assessment 


Funding information

This study was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDA23050203) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41373100). Additional support was provided by the CAS Key Technology Talent Program and the Instrument Developing Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. Y728021021).

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (DOCX 21 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Center for Coastal Environment Engineering Technology of Shandong Province, Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesYantaiChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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