Ecological risk and pollution history of heavy metals in Nansha mangrove, South China

Qihang Wu, Nora F.Y. Tam, Jonathan Y.S. Leung, Xizhen Zhou, Jie Fu, Bo Yao, Xuexia Huang, Lihua Xia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Owing to the Industrial Revolution in the late 1970s, heavy metal pollution has been regarded as a serious threat to mangrove ecosystems in the region of the Pearl River Estuary, potentially affecting human health. The present study attempted to characterize the ecological risk of heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn) in Nansha mangrove, South China, by estimating their concentrations in the surface sediment. In addition, the pollution history of heavy metals was examined by determining the concentrations of heavy metals along the depth gradient. The phytoremediation potential of heavy metals by the dominant plants in Nansha mangrove, namely Sonneratia apetala and Cyperus malaccensis, was also studied. Results found that the surface sediment was severely contaminated with heavy metals, probably due to the discharge of industrial sewage into the Pearl River Estuary. Spatial variation of heavy metals was generally unobvious. The ecological risk of heavy metals was very high, largely due to Cd contamination. All heavy metals, except Mn, decreased with depth, indicating that heavy metal pollution has been deteriorating since 1979. Worse still, the dominant plants in Nansha mangrove had limited capability to remove the heavy metals from sediment. Therefore, we propose that immediate actions, such as regulation of discharge standards of industrial sewage, should be taken by the authorities concerned to mitigate the ecological risk posed by heavy metals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Volume104
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ecological risk assessment
  • Heavy metal
  • Mangrove
  • Phytoremediation
  • Pollution
  • Sediment

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