The Daliao River System (DRS) is one of the major river systems in the northeastern China and receives substantial discharges from industrial, municipal, and agricultural effluents. In this study, the contents and partition of toxic trace elements in the DRS sediments were evaluated in terms of contamination levels and ecological risks using geoaccumulation index (Igeo), relative enrichment factor (REF), sediment pollution index (SPI), and potential effect concentration quotient (PECQ). Fourteen samples were collected and measured for trace and major elements and sediment properties. The following concentration ranges (mg kg-1) of toxic trace elements were found: As, 1.6-18.0; Cd 0.1-0.9; Co 3.8-23.4; Cr 12.9-151.6; Cu 4.6-86.1; Hg 0.01-0.35; Ni 8.4-64.4; Pb 11.6-67.1; Sb 0.13-1.77; V 18.5-153.3; and Zn 20.4-211.3. The proportions of soluble and exchangeable trace metals were less than 1 %, while the proportions of trace metals bound to carbonate, amorphous oxides, organic matter, and crystalline oxides were usually each <10 %. However, 28.8 % of Cd, on average, was associated with carbonate. The average proportions of trace metals in the residual fraction ranged 57.3 % for Cd to 85.4 % for Cr, indicating low mobility and bioavailability. Cr, Ni, V, and Co in the sediments mainly originated from natural sources, while Cd, As, Pb, Sb, and Hg partially originated from anthropogenic sources. The Igeo, REF, SPI, and PECQ values of the heavy metals in the sediment were not in agreement with each another. The average REF values of Cd and As were higher than those of the other metals. However, the average PECQ value was higher for Cr and Ni than for the other metals, indicating that these two metals would cause higher adverse biological effects than the other metals. In addition, the sediments located adjacent to cities were more contaminated. Therefore, it is suggested that future management and pollution control within the DRS might focus on As, Cd, Cr, and Ni in the sediments, particularly in the sediments adjacent to cities.
- Ecological risk
- Toxic trace elements