Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 132, Issue 1–3, pp 475–489 | Cite as

Heavy Metals Fractionation in Ganga River Sediments, India

  • P. Purushothaman
  • G. J. Chakrapani


The Ganga River is the largest river in India which, originates in the Himalayas and along with the Brahmaputra River, another Himalayan river, transports enormous amounts of sediments from the Indian sub-continent to the Bay of Bengal. Because of the important role of river sediments in the biogeochemical cycling of elements, the Ganga river sediments, collected from its origin to the down stretches, were studied in the present context, to assess the heavy metals associated with different chemical fractions of sediments. The fractionation of metals were studied in the sediments using SM&T protocol for the extraction of heavy metals and geo-accumulation index (GAI) (Muller, Schwermetalle in den sedimenten des rheins – Veranderungen seit. Umschau, 79, 778–783, 1979) and Metal Enrichment Factor (MEF) in different fractions were calculated. As with many river systems, residual fractions constitute more than 60% of total metals, except Zn, Cu and Cr. However, the reducible and organic and sulfide components also act as major sinks for metals in the down stretches of the river, which is supported by the high GAI and MEF values. The GAI values range between 4 and 5 and MEF exceed more than 20 for almost all the locations in the downstream locations indicating to the addition of metals through urban and industrial effluents, as compared to the low metals concentrations with less GAI and MEF in the pristine river sediments from the rivers in Himalayas.


Ganga River Sediments Heavy metals Metal fractionation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ajmal, M., Khan, M. A., & Nomani, A. A. (1987). Monitoring of heavy metals in the water and sediments of the Ganga River, India. Water Science and Technology, 19(9), 107–117.Google Scholar
  2. Alain, B. (2001). Limits of sequential extraction procedures re-examined with emphasis on the role of H+ ion reactivity. Analytica Chimica Acta, 445, 79–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ansari, A. A., Singh, I. B., & Tobschall, H. J. (2000). Role of monsoon rain on concentrations and dispersion patterns of metal pollutants in sediments and soils of the Ganga Plain, India. Environmental Geology, 39(3–4), 221–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Audry, S., Schafel, J., Blanc, G., & Jouannean, J. M. (2004). Fifty year sediment record of heavy metal pollution (Cd, Zn, Cu, Pb) in the Lot River Reservoir (France). Environmental Pollution, 132, 413–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baruah, N. K., Kotoky, P., Bhattacharyya, K. G., & Borah, G. C. (1996). Metal speciation in Jhanji River sediments. Science of the Total Environment, 193, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bordas, F., & Bourg, A. (2001). Effect of solid/liquid ratio on the remobilization of Cu, Pb, Cd and Zn from polluted river sediment modeling of the results obtained and determination of association constants between the metals and the sediment. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 128, 391–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chakrapani, G. J., & Subramanian, V. (1995). Fractionation of heavy metals and phosphorous in suspended sediments of the Yamuna River, India. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 43, 117–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davidson, C. M., Duncan, A. L., Littlejohn, D., Ure, A. M., & Garden, L. M. (1998). A critical evaluation of three stage BCR sequential extraction procedure to assess the potential mobility and toxicity of heavy metals in industrially contaminated land. Analytica Chimica Acta, 363, 45–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dollar, N. L., Souch, C. J., Filippelli, G. M., & Mastalerz, M. (2001). Chemical fractionation of metals in wetland sediments: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Environmental Science and Technology, 35, 3608–3615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Environmental Atlas of India (2001). New Delhi: CPCB.Google Scholar
  11. Förstner, U., & Wittmann, G. (1983). Metal pollution in the aquatic environment (p. 484). Berlin Heidelberg New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  12. Gambrell, R. P., Wiesepape, J. B., Patrick, W. H. Jr., & Duff, M. C. (1991). The effects of pH, redox, and salinity on metal release from a contaminated sediment. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 5758, 359–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gaur, V. K., Gupta, S. K., Pandey, S. D., Gopal, K., & Misra, V. (2005). Distribution of heavy metals in sediment and water of River Gomti. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 102, 419–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Irabien, M. J., & Velasco, F. (1999). Heavy metals in Oka river sediments (Urdaibai National Biosphere Reserve, northern Spain): Lithogenic and anthropogenic effects. Environmental Geology, 37(1–2), 54–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jain, C. K. (2003). Metal fractionation study on bed sediments of River Yamuna, India. Water Research, 38, 569–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Krauskopf, K. B., & Bird, D. K. (1995). Introduction to geochemistry (3rd ed., p. 647). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  17. Lindsay, L. W. (1979). Chemical equilibria in soils. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Mossop, K. F., & Davidson, C. M. (2003). Comparison of original and modified BCR sequential extraction procedures for the fractionation of copper, iron, lead, manganese and zinc in soils and sediments. Analytica Chimica Acta, 478, 111–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Muller, G. (1979). Schwermetalle in den sedimenten des rheins – Veranderungen seit. Umschau, 79, 778–783.Google Scholar
  20. Prusty, B. G., Sahu, K. C., & Godgul, G. (1994). Metal contamination due to mining and milling activities at the Zawar Zinc mine, Rajasthan, India. 1. Contamination of stream sediments. Chemical Geology, 112, 275–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rauret, G., Lopez-Sanchez, J. F., Luck, D., Yli-Halla, M., Muntau, H., & Quevauviller, P. (2001). The certification of extractable contents (mass fractions) of Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, Zn in freshwater sediment following a sequential extraction procedure. BCR-701; EUR 19775EN: p. 77.Google Scholar
  22. Singh, M., Ansari, A. A., Müller, G., & Singh, I. B. (1997). Heavy metals in freshly deposited sediments of the Gomati River (a tributary of the Ganga River): Effects of human activities. Environmental Geology, 29, 246–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Singh, I. M., Muller, G., & Singh, I. B. (2003). Geogenic distribution and baseline concentration of heavy metals in sediments of the Ganges River. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 80, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Staelens, N., Parkpian, P., & Polprasert, C. (2000). Assessment of metal speciation evolution in sewage sludge dewatered in vertical flow reed beds using a sequential extraction scheme. Chemical Speciation and Bioavailability, 12, 97–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Subramanian, V., Van Grieken, R., & Van’t Dack, L. (1987). Heavy metals distribution in the sediments of Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers. Environmental Geology, 9, 93–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wallman, W., Kersten, M., Gruber, J., & Forstner, U. (1993). Artifacts in the determination of trace metal binding forms in anoxic sediments by sequential extractions. International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, 51, 187–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zhai, M., Kampunzu, H. A. B., Modisi, M. P., & Totolo, O. (2003). Distribution of heavy metals in Gaborone urban soils (Botswana) and its relationship to soil pollution and bedrock composition. Environmental Geology, 45, 171–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesIndian Institute of Technology RoorkeeRoorkeeIndia

Personalised recommendations