Heavy metal content in the beach sediment with respect to contamination levels and sediment quality guidelines

DATE Sep - 19 - 2014

A study at Kalpakkam coast, southeast coast of India.
The “Environmental Earth Sciences ” Journal has published in its May 2014 issue, an article written by Environment and Safety Division, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (Authors: S. N. Bramha, A. K. Mohanty, K. K. Satpathy, K. V. Kanagasabapathy, S. Panigrahi, M. K. Samantara, M. V. R. Prasad).

Xenemetrix system- EX-6600 SDD was used as a research equipment for all analytical tasks of Elemental Analysis performed during this study.

The article presents the “Heavy metal content in the beach sediment with respect to contamination levels and sediment quality guidelines: a study at Kalpakkam coast, southeast coast of India”:


ocioeconomic developments and industrialization exert tremendous impact on beaches which is often neglected. Heavy metal (Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, and Pb) contents were estimated in the intertidal region from Kalpakkam to Mamallapuram (20 km), southeast coast of India covering seven locations.

To evaluate the level of contamination of these metals; enrichment factor (EF), geoaccumulation index (I geo), contamination factor (CF), pollution load index (PLI) and modified degree of contamination (mCd) were applied.

The results were also compared with the sediment quality guidelines (SQGs) to find out the eco-toxicity level. Metal contents in the beach sediment were observed in the order: Fe > Al > Mn > Cr > Cu > Ni > Zn > Pb > Co > Cd. Grain size distribution showed medium to coarse nature of the sediment.

Significant positive correlation was found among the metals indicating their common source of input. Based on EF, minor enrichment of Mn and Zn and moderately severe to severe enrichment of Cr, Cu, Pb and Cd were observed which was further confirmed by I geo and CF values.

Moreover, Mamallapuram showed a very high CF value for Cd (>6) indicating very high contamination accountable to anthropogenic sources. PLI and mCd in all the stations indicated unpolluted nature except M1 where the values pointed moderate degree of contamination. As per the SQGs, Ni and Cr values exceeded the probable effect limit value implying that these metals can have adverse impacts. None of the metals exceeded the effect range median indicating that the beach sediment is not very toxic.

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