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Distribution of heavy metals in near-shore sediments of the Swan River estuary, Western Australia

Distribution of heavy metals in near-shore sediments of the Swan River estuary, Western Australia

Water Air & Soil Pollution 124(1-2): 155-168

Estuarine systems adjacent to urban areas are at risk of contamination by contaminants from anthropogenic sources, such as heavy metals. We anticipated that the sediments of the Swan River estuary, which runs through metropolitan Perth in Western Australia, would show metal contamination related to industrialization and inputs of stormwater. Total Cu, Pb and Cd concentrations, and Cu, Pb, Cr and Zn in operationally-defined fractions, were determined in separate sampling exercises in near-shore sediments of the upper Swan River estuary. Total metal concentrations in sediments were not high (maximum values of 297 mg kg-1 for Cu, 184 mg kg-1 for Pb and 0.9 mg kg-1 for Cd) when compared with Australian environmental assessment guidelines for soils. On the basis of linear regressions between sediment metal concentrations and physicochemical properties of the sediments (pH, organic carbon, particle size distribution), no single parameter could explain the variation in metal concentrations for all metals. Sediment organic carbon content was positively correlated with Cu concentration; Cu concentrations also increased significantly with increasing clay content and decreasing sand content. Pb concentrations showed a significant increase with increasing sediment pH, and were approximately three-fold higher in sediments adjacent to stormwater drain outfalls than in sediments remote from drains; no such effect was observed for Cu or Cd. No effect of distance downstream was observed. Sequential extraction of sediments showed that most of the metals were in relatively immobile forms, for example bound to Fe oxides, or only extractable by aqua regia. The enhanced concentrations of Pb near stormwater outfalls suggest that vehicle-derived Pb may be an important contributor of Pb to the estuary.

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Accession: 003409180

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DOI: 10.1023/a:1005289203825

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