Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 186, Issue 10, pp 6047–6060 | Cite as

An assessment of metal contamination risk in sediments of Hara Biosphere Reserve, southern Iran with a focus on application of pollution indicators

  • Iman Zarei
  • Alireza Pourkhabbaz
  • Reza Bashiri Khuzestani


The aim of this study was to assess the pollution status of metals in sediments of Hara Biosphere Reserve using pollution indicators. For this purpose, sediment samples from nine locations were collected and characterized for metal content (Pb, Cr, Zn, Cu, and Fe) using the total digestion technique. Comparison of metal concentrations with that of sediment quality guidelines (SQGs) demonstrated no association with negative biological effects for Cu and Zn, while the values of Pb and Cr mainly illustrated to have association with negative biological effects. The results of the geo-accumulation index (I geo) indicated no contamination for Cr, Cu, Zn, and Fe, while the values of Pb demonstrated to have moderate contamination based on I geo values. The analysis of the enrichment factor (EF) showed no enrichment for Cu and Zn and minor enrichment for Pb and Cr. Similar results were also found for quantification of contamination (QoC) analysis, where the values of Cu and Zn demonstrated to have a geogenic source of contamination, while the values of Pb and Cr mainly illustrated to have an anthropogenic source of contamination. According to EF and QoC calculations, the values of Cu and Zn were derived mainly from natural processes and exposure of material from the earth’s crust, while the values for Pb and Cr were enriched by anthropogenic activities. The results of the contamination factor (C f i ) demonstrated low contamination levels for Fe, Cr, Zn, and Cu and moderate contamination levels for Pb. The pollution load index (PLI), showing the overall contamination of metals, demonstrated moderate pollution status in the study area.


Heavy metals Hera Biosphere Reserve Geo-accumulation index Enrichment factor Pollution load index Sediment quality guideline 



This research was supported by the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Birjand, Iran.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iman Zarei
    • 1
  • Alireza Pourkhabbaz
    • 1
  • Reza Bashiri Khuzestani
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of BirjandBirjandIran
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural ResourcesUniversity of KurdistanSanandajIran

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