Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 184, Issue 3, pp 1243–1252 | Cite as

Assessment of background levels of trace metals in water and soil from a remote region of Himalaya

  • Munir H. Shah
  • Javed Iqbal
  • Nazia Shaheen
  • Nadeem Khan
  • Muhammad Aziz Choudhary
  • Gulraiz Akhter


Selected trace metals were estimated by atomic absorption spectrometry in the water and soil samples collected from the remote region of Himalaya. The soil samples were analysed for soluble and acid extractable fraction of trace metals. In water samples, Ca, Na, Mg and K emerged as dominant contributors, whereas, Ca, Na, K, Mg, Fe and Pb were estimated at comparatively higher levels in the water extract of the soil. In case of acid extract of the soil samples, Ca, K, Fe, Mg, Mn and Na were found at elevated concentrations. Based on mean levels of the metals, following decreasing concentration order was observed in water samples: Ca > Na > Mg > K > Pb > Co > Cu > Zn > Mn > Cr > Fe > Cd > Li, however, in the acid extract of the soil, following order was noted: Ca > K > Fe > Mg > Mn > Na > Pb > Zn > Cr > Li > Cu > Co > Cd. The correlation study revealed appreciably diverse mutual relationships of trace metals in the water and soil samples. The multivariate cluster analyses exhibited divergent apportionment of trace metals in water and soil samples. Among the trace metals, Cd, Pb, Li, Zn, Cr, Cu, Mn and Co exhibited extreme to significant anthropogenic enrichment in the soil samples, while the rest of the metals were mostly contributed by the natural processes.


Background Enrichment Himalaya Metal Cluster analysis Soil Water 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Acosta, J. A., Faz, A., & Martinez, S. M. (2010). Identification of heavy metal sources by multivariable analysis in a typical Mediterranean city (SE Spain). Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 169, 519–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baize, D., & Sterckeman, T. (2001). Of the necessity of knowledge of the natural pedo-geochemical background content in the evaluation of the contamination of soils by trace elements. The Science of the Total Environment, 264, 127–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blaser, P., Zimmermann, S., Luster, J., & Shotyk, W. (2000). Critical examination of trace element enrichments and depletions in soils: As, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn in Swiss forest soils. The Science of the Total Environment, 249, 257–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dantu, S. (2009). Heavy metals concentration in soils of southeastern part of Ranga Reddy district, Andhra Pradesh, India. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 149, 213–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hamon, R. E., McLaughlin, M. J., Gilkes, R. J., Rate, A. W., Zarcinas, B., Robertson, A., et al. (2004). Geochemical indices allow estimation of heavy metal background concentrations in soils. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 18, GB1014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hernandez, L., Probst, A., Probst, J. L., & Ulrich, E. (2003). Heavy metal distribution in some French forest soils: Evidence for atmospheric contamination. The Science of the Total Environment, 312, 195–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Huang, S. W., & Jin, J. Y. (2008). Status of heavy metals in agricultural soils as affected by different patterns of land use. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 139, 317–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Inc, Stat Soft (1999). STATISTICA for Windows. Tulsa: Computer Programme Manual.Google Scholar
  9. Kakulu, S. E. (2003). Trace metal concentration in roadside surface soil and tree back: A measurement of local atmospheric pollution in Abuja, Nigeria. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 89, 233–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lide, D. R. (2005). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (85th edn.). Boca Raton: CRC Press. Florida, Section 14, Geophysics, Astronomy, and Acoustics; Abundance of Elements in the Earth’s Crust and in the Sea.Google Scholar
  11. Marandi, A., & Karro, E. (2008). Natural background levels and threshold values of monitored parameters in the Cambrian–Vendian groundwater body, Estonia. Environmental Geology, 54, 1217–1225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Namaghi, H. H., Karami, G. H., & Saadat, S. (2010). A study on chemical properties of groundwater and soil in ophiolitic rocks in Firuzabad, east of Shahrood, Iran: With emphasis to heavy metal contamination. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. doi: 10.1007/s10661-010-1479-3.Google Scholar
  13. Palumbo, B., Angelone, M., Bellanca, A., Dazzi, C., Hauser, S., Neri, R., et al. (2000). Influence of inheritance and pedogenesis on heavy metal distribution in soils of Sicily, Italy. Geoderma, 95, 247–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Pizarro, J., Vergara, P. M., Rodríguez, J. A., & Valenzuela, A. M. (2010). Heavy metals in northern Chilean rivers: Spatial variation and temporal trends. Journal of Hazardous Material, 181, 747–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Radojevic, M., & Bashlin, V. N. (1999). Practical Environmental Analysis. UK: The Royal Society of Chemistry.Google Scholar
  16. Rawlins, B. G., Webster, R., & Lister, T. R. (2003). The influence of parent material on topsoil geochemistry in eastern England. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 28, 1389–1409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Reimann, C., & de Caritat, P. (2005). Distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic sources for elements in the environment: Regional geochemical surveys versus enrichment factors. The Science of the Total Environment, 337, 91–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Reimann, C., & Garrett, R. G. (2005). Geochemical background concept and reality. The Science of the Total Environment, 350, 12–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Rodrigues, S. M., Henriques, B., Coimbra, J., da Silva, E. F., Pereira, M. E., & Duarte, A. C. (2010). Water-soluble fraction of mercury, arsenic and other potentially toxic elements in highly contaminated sediments and soils. Chemosphere, 78, 1301–1312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sterckeman, T., Douay, F., Baize, D., Fourrier, H., Proix, N., Schvartz, C., et al. (2006). Trace element distributions in soils developed in loess deposits from northern France. European Journal of Soil Science, 57, 392–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sutherland, R. A. (2000). Bed sediment-associated trace metals in an urban stream, Oahu, Hawaii. Environmental Geology, 39, 611–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Tariq, S. R., Shah, M. H., Shaheen, N., Jaffar, M., & Khalique, A. (2008). Statistical source identification of metals in groundwater exposed to industrial contamination. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 138, 159–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tariq, S. R., Shaheen, N., Khalique, A., & Shah, M. H. (2010). Distribution, correlation and source apportionment of selected metals in tannery effluents, related soils and groundwater—A case study from Multan, Pakistan. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 166, 303–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. US-EPA (2007). Microwave assisted acid digestion of sediments, sludges, soils, and oils. Method 3051A, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  25. Vega, F. A., Covelo, E. F., Cerqueira, B., & Andrade, M. L. (2009). Enrichment of marsh soils with heavy metals by effect of anthropic pollution. Journal of Hazardous Material, 170, 1056–1063.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Vencelides, Z., Hrkal, Z., & Prchalova, H. (2010). Determination of the natural background content of metals in ground waters of the Czech Republic. Applied Geochemistry, 25, 755–762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Wendland, F., Hannappel, S., Kunkel, R., Schenk, R., Voigt, H. J., & Wolter, R. (2005). A procedure to define natural groundwater conditions of groundwater bodies in Germany. Water Science and Technology, 51, 249–257.Google Scholar
  28. Wu, W., Xie, D.-T., & Liu, H.-B. (2009). Spatial variability of soil heavy metals in the three gorges area: Multivariate and geostatistical analyses. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 157, 63–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Yidana, S. M., Ophori, D., & Yakubo, B. B. (2008). A multivariate statistical analysis of surface water chemistry data—The Ankobra Basin, Ghana. Journal of Environmental Management, 86, 80–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Zhao, F. J., McGrath, S. P., & Merrington, G. (2007). Estimates of ambient background concentrations of trace metals in soils for risk assessment. Environmental Pollution, 148, 221–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Munir H. Shah
    • 1
  • Javed Iqbal
    • 1
  • Nazia Shaheen
    • 1
  • Nadeem Khan
    • 2
  • Muhammad Aziz Choudhary
    • 3
  • Gulraiz Akhter
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryQuaid-i-Azam UniversityIslamabadPakistan
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesQuaid-i-Azam UniversityIslamabadPakistan
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryMirpur University of Science and TechnologyMirpurPakistan
  4. 4.Department of Earth SciencesQuaid-i-Azam UniversityIslamabadPakistan

Personalised recommendations