, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 688–696 | Cite as

The ecological risk of heavy metals in sediment from the Danube Delta

  • Gabriel Gati
  • Cristian Pop
  • Florin Brudaşcă
  • Anca Elena Gurzău
  • Marina Spînu


The objectives of this study were to assess the sediment contamination with heavy metals and to investigate accordingly the ecological risk posed in the SE of the Danube Delta. Sediments are important in assessing the contamination as they act as reservoirs, transporters and contamination sources. Sediment samples were collected and analysed for lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury, revealing levels higher than the background, especially for cadmium and mercury (Pb > As > Cd > Hg). Concentrations exceeding the probable effect limit were noticed for arsenic and mercury. The contamination indexes describe the study area as having almost half of the samples as contaminated (pollution load index-PLI 1.04), however the contamination is mostly low-to moderate (modified contamination degree-mCd 1.36). The sediment contamination poses mostly a low ecological risk (RI 94.8). The sediment quality guideline quotient (SQG-Q 0.29) describes a moderate impact, while the probable effect concentration quotient (PEC-Q 0.16) confirms that there are no levels likely to affect the aquatic biota. In our study area, the main Branch of the Danube River and the Secondary Delta are the most affected by contamination, while the narrow, reed abundant channels as the preferred habitat of most aquatic organisms, have a low contamination level.


Heavy metals Sediment Ecological risk Danube Delta 



The current study was accomplished with the support of the DeltaBioTox research project, supported by the PN-II-PT-PCCA-2011-3-61/2012 financed by the Romanian Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sports.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriel Gati
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cristian Pop
    • 1
  • Florin Brudaşcă
    • 2
  • Anca Elena Gurzău
    • 1
  • Marina Spînu
    • 2
  1. 1.Environmental Health CenterCluj-NapocaRomania
  2. 2.University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary MedicineCluj-NapocaRomania

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