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Distribution of selected heavy metals in sediments of the Agueda river (Central Portugal)

dos Reis, A. R., Parker, A., Carter, J. and Ferreira, M. P. (2005) Distribution of selected heavy metals in sediments of the Agueda river (Central Portugal). Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A, 40 (2). pp. 305-316. ISSN 1093-4529

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1081/ese-200045535


The state of river water deterioration in the Agueda hydrographic basin, mostly in the western part, partly reflects the high rate of housing and industrial development in this area in recent years. The streams have acted as a sink for organic and inorganic loads from several origins: domestic and industrial sewage and agricultural waste. The contents of the heavy metals Cr, Cd, Ni, Cu, Pb, and Zn were studied by sequential chemical extraction of the principal geochemical phases of streambed sediments, in the <63 mum fraction, in order to assess their potential availability to the environment, investigating, the metal concentrations, assemblages, and trends. The granulometric and mineralogical characteristics of this sediment fraction were also studied. This study revealed clear pollution by Cr, Cd, Ni, Cu, Zn, and Pb, as a result from both natural and anthropogenic origins. The chemical transport of metals appears to be essentially by the following geochemical phases, in decreasing order of significance: (exchangeable + carbonates) much greater than (organics) much greater than (Mn and Fe oxides and hydroxides). The (exchangeable + carbonate) phase plays an important part in the fixation of Cu, Ni, Zn, and Cd. The organic phase is important in the fixation of Cr, Pb, and also Cu and Ni. Analyzing the metal contents in the residual fraction, we conclude that Zn and Cd are the most mobile, and Cr and Pb are less mobile than Cu and Ni. The proximity of the pollutant sources and the timing of the influx of contaminated material control the distribution of the contaminant-related sediments locally and on the network scale.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:3481
Uncontrolled Keywords:hydrographic basin fluvial sediments sequential extraction metal pollution
Additional Information: Conference Information: 3rd Workshop on Monitoring Sediment Quality at River Basin Scale IPIMAR, Lisbon, PORTUGAL, JAN 29-31, 2004

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