Fate of heavy metal contaminants in road dusts and gully sediments in Guangzhou, SE China: A chemical and mineralogical assessment

N. S. Duzgoren-Aydin, C. S C Wong, Z. G. Song, A. Aydin, Xiangdong Li, M. You

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38 Citations (Scopus)


The urban environment of Guangzhou, the largest industrialized center in SE China, has elevated levels of heavy metals. In places, Cu, Pb, and Zn contents exceed 490, 920, and 1,820 mg/kg, respectively. The accumulation of these contaminants is likely to accelerate as a consequence of rapid economic and industrial growth in the region. Understanding of the possible fate of the contaminants is therefore imperative in order to assess their potential long-term ecological impacts. This article documents the results of a sequential extraction procedure involving five operationally defined fractions to determine the chemical partitioning of Cu, Pb, and Zn in the urban deposits represented by road dusts and corresponding gully sediments. Special emphasis was given to the mineralogical characteristics of the urban deposits. Road dusts were mainly composed of quartz, K-Feldspar, plagioclase, and calcite, and contained minor amounts of mica and clay minerals. The corresponding gully sediments, however, typically contained minor amounts of calcite, mica, and clay minerals, and were dominated by quartz and K-feldspar. The road dusts and gully sediments exhibited comparable chemical partitioning patterns of Cu, Pb, and Zn, despite significant differences in the relative abundances of minerals, especially of calcite. Lead and Zn occurred mainly in the operationally defined carbonate/specifically adsorbed (Pb: 48%; Zn: 50%) and Fe-Mn (Pb: 36%; Zn: 27%) phases, whereas Cu was largely associated with the organic (70%) and residual (15%) phases. In general, the residual phases of the heavy metal contaminants were equal or less than 15%, suggesting their dominantly anthropogenic origin. The relative mobility and bioavailability of the heavy metals in the urban deposits of Guangzhou was: Pb ∼ Zn > Cu. The ever-increasing accumulations of heavy metals may pose a threat in the region both to the environment and to human health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-389
Number of pages16
JournalHuman and Ecological Risk Assessment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006


  • Cu
  • Environmental quality
  • Pb
  • Road dust
  • Urban environment
  • Zn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modelling
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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