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Volume 5 Issue 2
May  2017
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LIN Dan, JIN Meng-gui, LI Xiu-juan. 2017: Risk assessment of heavy metals in topsoil along the banks of theYangtze River in Huangshi, China. Journal of Groundwater Science and Engineering, 5(2): 162-172.
Citation: LIN Dan, JIN Meng-gui, LI Xiu-juan. 2017: Risk assessment of heavy metals in topsoil along the banks of theYangtze River in Huangshi, China. Journal of Groundwater Science and Engineering, 5(2): 162-172.

Risk assessment of heavy metals in topsoil along the banks of theYangtze River in Huangshi, China

  • High concentrations of heavy metal in farmland threatens food production and human health. Our study assesses soil quality and the distribution of Cd, Cr, Cu, Zn, Pb and Ni, to identify possible sources of heavy metals along the banks of the Yangtze River in Huangshi. Heavy metal concentrations of 22 topsoil samples were measured using the inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry instrument and data was analyzed by multivariate statistic approaches. Heavy metal contamination risk assessment was performed using a combination of the Nemerow multi-factor index method, the Hakanson potential ecological risk index method and the Muller index of geo-accumulation method. These methods determined similar results indicating that cadmium (Cd) poses a health risk to residents at the study site while Cr, Cu, Zn, Pb and Ni do not. The Nemerow multi-factor index method demonstrated that 18 samples were heavily polluted, three moderately polluted and one lightly polluted. The Muller index of geo-accumulation method found ten samples were moderately to strongly polluted by Cd, five were moderately polluted, six were lightly to moderately polluted and one was lightly polluted. The Hakanson potential ecological risk index method proved six samples were strongly polluted, seven were moderately polluted and nine were lightly polluted. Since our sampling sites were all in agricultural lands, we recommend the potential ecological risk index method as the most effective given it not only considers the range of pollutants contributing to soil pollution but factors in heavy metals toxicity. We are apt that the source of the high concentrations of Cd found in topsoil is derived from alluvial sediments upstream of the Yangtze River with a high percentage of residual speciation and a low percentage of exchangeable speciation distribution of Cd. This in turns indicates that a high concentration of Cd in soil had little impact on the natural environment. However, 31.9% of the iron-manganese oxides bound speciation indicating that such levels of Cd in soil would be potentially hazardous to the crops, particularly if exposed to a reductive condition.
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