Transferral of HMs pollution from road-deposited sediments to stormwater runoff during transport processes

  • Qian Wang
  • Qionghua Zhang
  • Mawuli Dzakpasu
  • Nini Chang
  • Xiaochang WangEmail author
Research Article


Stormwater runoff, derived from the wash-off of road-deposited sediments (RDS), contains elevated heavy metal (HM) concentrations and, thus, imposes an increasing threat to urban aquatic ecosystems. In-depth understanding of the variations of HMs pollution from RDS to stormwater during transport processes facilitates the development of effective RDS and stormwater control strategies. Toward this end, the distribution of HMs (Cu, Pb, Zn, Cr, and Ni) in RDS and stormwater were investigated simultaneously. The results show a preferential accumulation of Pb and Zn in the finer (<38.5 μm) RDS, and Cu, Cr and Ni in the coarser (38.5–150 μm) RDS. For stormwater, n.d.~48.6% of HMs fractionated into the dissolved phase, and stormwater particles constitute the primary carriers of HMs. Furthermore, the accumulation of HMs in stormwater particles increased linearly with finer particle size distributions (PSD). Geoaccumulation index (Igeo) highlighted the predominant pollution of both RDS and stormwater particles by Cu, Pb and Zn. Nonetheless, Cu, Pb, and Ni mostly contributed the potential ecological risk of RDS, whereas Cu, Pb, and Zn mainly contributed that of stormwater particles. Moreover, contamination by Cu, Pb and Zn was significantly higher in stormwater particles than that in RDS. These differences are attributable to the solubility and size-dependent accumulation of HMs in RDS, as well as the PSD variations during transport processes. The study outcomes highlight the importance of very fine (nano- and submicron- scale) RDS in stormwater pollution and the necessity of control.


Road-deposited sediment Stormwater runoff Heavy metal Particle size Pollution variation 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51508447), the National Program of Water Pollution Control in China (Grant No. 2014ZX07305-002), the National Key Technology Support Program (Grant No. 2014BAC13B06), and Program for Innovative Research Team in Shaanxi (PIRT) (Grant No. 2013KCT-13).


  1. Aminiyan M M, Baalousha M, Mousavi R, Aminiyan F M, Hosseini H, Heydariyan A (2017). The ecological risk, source identification, and pollution assessment of heavy metals in road dust: A case study in Rafsanjan, SE Iran. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 25(14): 13382–13395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Béchet B, Durin B, Legret M, Cloirec P L (2009). Size fractionation of heavy metals in highway runoff waters. Highway and Urban Environment, 17: 235–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck H J, Birch G F (2012). Metals, nutrients and total suspended solids discharged during different flow conditions in highly urbanised catchments. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 184(2): 637–653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blecken G T, Rentz R, Malmgren C, Öhlander B, Viklander M (2012). Stormwater impact on urban waterways in a cold climate: Variations in sediment metal concentrations due to untreated snowmelt discharge. Journal of Soils and Sediments, 12(5): 758–773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Charters F J, Cochrane T A, O’Sullivan A D (2015). Particle size distribution variance in untreated urban runoff and its implication on treatment selection. Water Research, 85: 337–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chinese National Environmental Monitoring Center (1990). The Soil Backgroung Value in China. China Environmental Science Press, Beijing (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  7. Fedotov P S, Ermolin M S, Karandashev V K, Ladonin D V (2014). Characterization of size, morphology and elemental composition of nano-, submicron, and micron particles of street dust separated using field-flow fractionation in a rotating coiled column. Talanta, 130: 1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ferreira M, Lau S L, Stenstrom M K (2013). Size fractionation of metals present in highway runoff: Beyond the six commonly reported species. Water Environment Research, 85(9): 793–805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Furumai H, Balmer H, Boller M (2002). Dynamic behavior of suspended pollutants and particle size distribution in highway runoff. Water Science and Technology, 46(11-12): 413–418Google Scholar
  10. Hakanson L (1980). An ecological risk index for aquatic pollution control: A sedimentological approach. Water Research, 14(8): 975–1001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hallberg M, Renman G, Lundbom T (2006). Seasonal variations of ten metals in highway runoff and their partition between dissolved and particulate matter. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 181(1–4): 183–191Google Scholar
  12. Helmreich B, Hilliges R, Schriewer A, Horn H (2010). Runoff pollutants of a highly trafficked urban road—Correlation analysis and seasonal influences. Chemosphere, 80(9): 991–997CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Huang J, Li F, Zeng G, Liu W, Huang X, Xiao Z,Wu H, Gu Y, Li X, He X, He Y (2016). Integrating hierarchical bioavailability and population distribution into potential eco-risk assessment of heavy metals in road dust: A case study in Xiandao District, Changsha City, China. Science of the Total Environment, 541: 969–976CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Joshi U M, Balasubramanian R (2010). Characteristics and environmental mobility of trace elements in urban runoff. Chemosphere, 80 (3): 310–318Google Scholar
  15. Kayhanian M, McKenzie E R, Leatherbarrow J E, Young T M (2012). Characteristics of road sediment fractionated particles captured from paved surfaces, surface run-off and detention basins. Science of the Total Environment, 439: 172–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Li W, Shen Z Y, Tian T, Liu R M, Qiu J L (2012). Temporal variation of heavy metal pollution in urban stormwater runoff. Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering, 6(5): 692–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lin M, Gui H, Wang Y, Peng W (2017). Pollution characteristics, source apportionment, and health risk of heavy metals in street dust of Suzhou, China. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International, 24(2): 1987–1998CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Liu A, Gunawardana C, Gunawardena J, Egodawatta P, Ayoko G A, Goonetilleke A (2016). Taxonomy of factors which influence heavy metal build-up on urban road surfaces. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 310: 20–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Liu A, Liu L, Li D, Guan Y (2015). Characterizing heavy metal build-up on urban road surfaces: implication for stormwater reuse. Science of the Total Environment, 515-516: 20–29Google Scholar
  20. McKenzie E R, Wong C M, Green P G, Kayhanian M, Young T M (2008). Size dependent elemental composition of road-associated particles. Science of the Total Environment, 398(1-3): 145–153Google Scholar
  21. Mirzaei Aminiyan M, Baalousha M, Mousavi R, Mirzaei Aminiyan F, Hosseini H, Heydariyan A (2018). The ecological risk, source identification, and pollution assessment of heavy metals in road dust: A case study in Rafsanjan, SE Iran. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International, 25(14): 13382–13395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Muller G (1969). Index of geoaccumulation in sediments of the Rhine River. GeoJournal, 2(108): 108–118Google Scholar
  23. Nie F H, Li T, Yao H F, Feng M, Zhang G K (2008). Characterization of suspended solids and particle-bound heavy metals in a first flush of highway runoff. Journal of Zhejiang University. Science A, 9(11): 1567–1575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Padoan E, Romè C, Ajmone-Marsan F (2017). Bioaccessibility and size distribution of metals in road dust and roadside soils along a periurban transect. Science of the Total Environment, 601-602: 89–98Google Scholar
  25. Peng H Q, Liu Y, Wang H W, Gao X L, Ma L M (2016). Event mean concentration and first flush effect from different drainage systems and functional areas during storms. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International, 23(6): 5390–5398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sutherland R A, Tack F M, Ziegler A D (2012). Road-deposited sediments in an urban environment: A first look at sequentially extracted element loads in grain size fractions. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 225-226: 54–62Google Scholar
  27. Świetilik R, Trojanowska M, Strzelecka M, Bocho-Janiszewska A (2015). Fractionation and mobility of Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb and Zn in the road dust retained on noise barriers along expressway—A potential tool for determining the effects of driving conditions on speciation of emitted particulate metals. Environmental Pollution, 196: 404–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tian P, Li Y X, Yang Z F (2009). Effect of rainfall and antecedent dry periods on heavy metal loading of sediments on urban roads. Frontiers of Earth Science in China, 3(3): 297–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wang Q, Zhang Q, Dzakpasu M, Lian B, Wu Y, Wang X C (2018). Development of an indicator for characterizing particle size distribution and quality of stormwater runoff. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International, 25(8): 7991–8001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wang Q, Zhang Q, Wu Y, Wang X C (2017). Physicochemical conditions and properties of particles in urban runoff and rivers: Implications for runoff pollution. Chemosphere, 173: 318–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wei B G, Yang L S (2010). A review of heavy metal contaminations in urban soils, urban road dusts and agricultural soils from China. Microchemical Journal, 94(2): 99–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ying G X, Sansalone J J (2010). Particulate matter and metals partitioning in highway rainfall-runoff. Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering in China, 4(1): 35–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Yuen J Q, Olin P H, Lim H S, Benner S G, Sutherland R A, Ziegler A D (2012). Accumulation of potentially toxic elements in road deposited sediments in residential and light industrial neighborhoods of Singapore. Journal of Environmental Management, 101: 151–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Yun Y, Park H, Kim L, Ko S (2010). Size distributions and settling velocities of suspended particles from road and highway. KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering, 14(4): 481–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zafra C, Temprano J, Suárez J (2017). A simplified method for determining potential heavy metal loads washed-off by stormwater runoff from road-deposited sediments. Science of the Total Environment, 601-602: 260–270Google Scholar
  36. Zhang J, Deng H, Wang D, Chen Z, Xu S (2013). Toxic heavy metal contamination and risk assessment of street dust in small towns of Shanghai suburban area, China. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International, 20(1): 323–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zhang J, Hua P, Krebs P (2017). Influences of land use and antecedent dry-weather period on pollution level and ecological risk of heavy metals in road-deposited sediment. Environmental Pollution, 228: 158–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zhang Q, Wang X, Hou P, Wan W, Ren Y, Ouyang Z, Yang L (2013). The temporal changes in road stormwater runoff quality and the implications to first flush control in Chongqing, China. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 185(12): 9763–9775CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zhao H, Chen X, Hao S, Jiang Y, Zhao J, Zou C, Xie W (2016). Is the wash-off process of road-deposited sediment source limited or transport limited? Science of the Total Environment, 563-564: 62–70Google Scholar
  40. Zhao H, Li X (2013a). Risk assessment of metals in road-deposited sediment along an urban-rural gradient. Environmental Pollution, 174: 297–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zhao H, Li X (2013b). Understanding the relationship between heavy metals in road-deposited sediments and washoff particles in urban stormwater using simulated rainfall. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 246-247: 267–276Google Scholar
  42. Zhao H, Li X, Wang X, Tian D (2010). Grain size distribution of roaddeposited sediment and its contribution to heavy metal pollution in urban runoff in Beijing, China. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 183 (1-3): 203–210Google Scholar
  43. Ziyath A M, Egodawatta P, Goonetilleke A (2016). Build-up of toxic metals on the impervious surfaces of a commercial seaport. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 127: 193–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qian Wang
    • 1
  • Qionghua Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mawuli Dzakpasu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nini Chang
    • 1
  • Xiaochang Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Northwest Water Resource, Environment and Ecology (Ministry of Education), School of Environmental and Municipal EngineeringXi’an University of Architecture and TechnologyXi’anChina
  2. 2.International Science & Technology Cooperation Center for Urban Alternative Water Resources DevelopmentXi’anChina

Personalised recommendations