Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 164, Issue 1–4, pp 173–187 | Cite as

Assessment of dissolved heavy metal in the Yangtze River estuary and its adjacent sea, China

  • Qiang An
  • Yanqing Wu
  • Jinhui Wang
  • Zhien Li


The purpose of this paper is to determine the concentrations of dissolved heavy metals namely mercury (Hg), lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), and copper (Cu) and to investigate the relationships between nutrients (nitrate-nitrogen and phosphate) and dissolved heavy metals. For this purpose, the concentrations of dissolved heavy metals were measured through 51 voyages form 1984 to 2006 in the Yangtze river estuary and its adjacent sea. Results analysis showed that dissolved heavy metals were not the main pollutants in the Yangtze river estuary, and the main source of heavy metal contamination was industrial wastewater from terrestrial pollution during the past 20 years. Heavy metal values showed significant abundance in the south branch of the Yangtze River estuary and Hangzhou Bay. In addition, Pb showed negative correlation with nutrients, while the positive correlations between Hg, Cd, and nutrients were shown. The obtained molar ratios, \(\Delta \mbox{Cd}/\Delta \mbox{N} = 1.68 \times 10^{-5}\) and \(\Delta \mbox{Cd}/\Delta \mbox{P} = 1.66 \times 10^{-4}\), are close to those in plankton, showing the biogeochemical behavior and process of dissolved cadmium.


Dissolved heavy metal Spatial and temporal variation PCA Pearson’s correlation coefficient Yangtze River estuary 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bruland, K. W. (1978). Cadmium in northeast Pacific waters. Limnology and Oceanography, 23, 618–625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen, Z. Y., Kostaschuk, R., & Yang, M. (2001). Spatial and temporal distribution of heavy metals on the tidal flats of the Yangtze River estuary, China. Environmental Geology, 40, 742–749. doi: 10.1007/s002540000241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen, Z. Y., Saito, Y., Kanai, Y., Wei, T. Y., Li, L. Q., Yao, H. S., et al. (2004). Low concentration of heavy metals in the Yangtze estuarine sediments, China: A diluting setting. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 20, 168–177.Google Scholar
  4. Cochran, J. K., Frignani, M., Salamanca, M., Bellucci, L. G., & Guerzoni, S. (1998). Lead-210 as a tracer of atmospheric input of heavy metals in the north Venice Lagoon. Marine Chemistry, 62, 15–29. doi: 10.1016/S0304-4203(98)00017-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Danovaro, R. (2003). Pollution threats in the Mediterranean Sea: An overview. Chemistry and Ecology, 19(1), 15–32. doi: 10.1080/0275754031000081467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gearing, J. N., Buckley, D. E., & Smith, J. N. (1991). Hydrocarbon and metal contents in a sediment core from Halifax Harbour: A chronology of contamination. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 48, 2344–2354. doi: 10.1139/f91-275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gorenc, S. A., Kostaschuk, R. A., & Chen, Z. Y. (2004). Spatial variations in heavy metals on tidal flats in the Yangtze estuary, China. Environmental Geology, 45, 1101–1108. doi: 10.1007/s00254-004-0968-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 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, 54–63. doi: 10.1007/s002540050360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kailasam, N., Subramaniam, N., & Selvam, M. (2001). Analysis of distillery effluent and its effects on the mortality of earthworm Megascolex pumilio. Journal of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Monitoring, 12(1), 21–25.Google Scholar
  10. Li, J. F., & Zhang, C. (1998). Sediment resuspension and implications for turbidity maximum in the Changjiang Estuary. Marine Geology, 148, 117–124. doi: 10.1016/S0025-3227(98)00003-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Losks K., Wiechua D. (2003). Application of principal component analysis for the estimation of source of heavy metal contamination in surface sediments from the Rybnik Reservoir. Chemosphere, 51, 723–733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Milliman, J. D., Bearsdley, R. C., Yang, Z. S., & Limeburner, R. (1985). Modern Huanghe-derived mud from the outer shelf of the East China Sea: Identification and potential transport mechanisms. Continental Shelf Research, 4, 175–188. doi: 10.1016/0278-4343(85)90028-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Qu, W., & Kelderman, P. (2001). Heavy metal contents in the delft canal sediments and suspended solids of the river rhine: Multivariate analysis for source tracing. Chemosphere, 45, 919–925. doi: 10.1016/S0045-6535(01)00101-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Redfield, A. C. (1934). On the proportions of organic derivations in sea water and their relation to the composition of plankton. In R. J. Daniel (Ed.), James Johnstone memorial volume (pp. 176–192). University of Liverpool Press, Liverpool.Google Scholar
  15. Singh, R. K., Chavan, S. L., & Sapkale, P. H. (2007). Heavy metal concentrations in water, sediments and body tissues of red worm (Tubifex spp.) collected from natural habitats in Mumbai, India. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 129, 471–481. doi: 10.1007/s10661-006-9377-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. State Oceanic Administration of China (1998). Marine Monitoring in China (Part 4: Seawater analysis) (pp. 11–35). Standard Press of China (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  17. Wu, G. Y., Tu, W., Shi, C., & Liu, D. L. (1996). Pollution and assessment of heavy metals in the substratum of the tidal beach near the Bai Longgang outlet of wastewater in Pudong new area. Journal of East China Normal University (for Pudong new area), 52–56 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  18. Yang, S. L. (1999). Sedimentation on a growing intertidal island in the Yangtze River mouth. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 49, 401–410. doi: 10.1006/ecss.1999.0501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Zhang, W., Yu, L., Hutchinson, S. M., Xu, S., Chen, Z., & Gao, X. (2001). China’s Yangtze Estuary: I. Geomorphic influence on heavy metal accumulation in intertidal sediments. Geomorphology, 41, 106–205. doi: 10.1016/S0169-555X(01)00116-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Zitko, V. (1994). Principal component analysis in the evaluation of environmental data. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 28, 718–722. doi: 10.1016/0025-326X(94)90329-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.East China Sea Environmental Monitoring, Center of State Oceanic Administration (SOA)ShanghaiChina

Personalised recommendations