Heavy metals in stream sediments: Effects of human activities


The content of 11 heavy metals in the sediments of a stream system was determined by atomic absorption analysis. Geochemical phases were investigated using a sequential extraction scheme, and bulk contents were assessed with a single HNO3 extraction. Certain heavy metals were associated with different geochemical phases. Co, Mn, and Ba concentrated primarily in the carbonate and Mn phases, while all the remaining metals concentrated in the Fe and remnant phases. Features located along the stream system influenced the content of heavy metals. Results from the geochemical phases indicated Cu, Pb, Zn, Cd and Ag were emitted by one landfill, while Cd, Ba, and Ag were emitted by a second landfill. A wastewater treatment facility appeared to emit Ni and Cu. A stream draining a reservoir and joining the study stream resulted in dilution of the heavy metals in the sediments. A populated area along the study stream appeared to emit Mn. The single HNO3 extraction procedure is quicker to perform than the sequential extraction but does not indicate the phase associations.


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Document Type





heavy metal, wastewater, wastewater treatment, extraction procedure, sequential extraction

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Journal Title

Environmental Geology and Water Sciences