Trace metals in aquatic environments of a mangrove ecosystem in Nansha, Guangzhou, South China: pollution status, sources, and ecological risk assessment

  • Yingjie Chen
  • Huanfang Huang
  • Yang Ding
  • Wenwen Chen
  • Jie Luo
  • Hui Li
  • Jian Wu
  • Wei Chen
  • Shihua QiEmail author


Mangrove forests are widely located along coastlines. They have been identified to be inimitable and dynamic ecosystems. This study investigated the trace metals in mangrove water and surface sediments of Nansha, Guangzhou, China. Zn (148.42 ± 247.47 μg L−1) was the most abundant metal in waters, followed by As (82.34 ± 118.95 μg L−1), Pb (22.96 ± 120.50 μg L−1), and Ni (19.42 ± 47.84 μg L−1). In sediments, the most abundant metal was Fe (27.04 ± 1.91 g kg−1), followed by Mn (1049.04 ± 364.11 mg kg−1), Zn (566.33 ± 244.37 mg kg−1), and Cr (106.9 ± 28.51 mg kg−1). Higher contents of trace metals were detected in vicinity areas of the river mouth. The results of pollution indexes, including contamination factor, enrichment factor, and geo-accumulation index, indicated the pollution of Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn in sediments. The Spearman correlation and cluster analysis were used to evaluate the metal sources. In water, the significant correlations among Zn and water chemical parameters (Na, Mg, K, Ca, conductivity, pH, and Cl) might indicate the natural source of Zn from the seawater. Water sampling sites in estuaries and coastal areas were clustered separately, which might indicate the influences of upstream water and the seawater, respectively. In sediments, the significant relationships among Cd, Pb, and Zn concentrations were likely to imply the emissions from industries and exploitation of the Pb-Zn mine. The occurrence of Cr and Cu in sediments can be attributed to the spills of lubricants or oil. Cd in sediments could cause serious ecological risk.


Trace metals Mangrove Water Sediment Source analysis Cadmium pollution 



We sincerely appreciate the valuable field work and laboratory assistance of Xiaoyu Jiang, Tingyu Lan, Hongyan Xiang, and Guangdong Hydrogeology Battalion. We genuinely thank Tianpeng Hu and Damao Xu for the data analysis.

Funding information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41473095) and the Research Fund of The Guangxi Key Laboratory of Theory and Technology for Environmental Pollution Control (Grant No. Guikeneng 1701K008).

Supplementary material

10661_2019_7732_MOESM1_ESM.docx (71 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 70 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental StudiesChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental GeologyChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  3. 3.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringGuilin University of TechnologyGuilinChina
  4. 4.College of Resources and EnvironmentYangtze UniversityWuhanChina

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