High cadmium pollution from sediments in a eutrophic lake caused by dissolved organic matter complexation and reduction of manganese oxide

Musong Chen, Shiming Ding, Cai Li, Yazhou Tang, Xianfang Fan, Huacheng Xu, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Chaosheng Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Eutrophication and metal pollution are global environmental problems. The risk of metal pollution is high in the eutrophic lakes because of high mobility of metal in sediments. However, the mechanism of cadmium (Cd) mobility in sediments is still unclear. Here we study the mobilization of Cd in sediments from the eutrophic Lake Taihu via monthly field monitoring of mobile Cd using diffusive gradient in thin films (DGT) and high resolution dialysis (HR-Peeper) techniques. We found a high mobility of Cd in sediments in February and March, resulting from reductive dissolution of Mn oxide mediation by high microbial activities, as shown by the similarities in distribution patterns of DGT-labile Cd and Mn. A two orders of magnitude increase in dissolved Cd concentrations (about 28 μg L−1) was observed in May and June, with dissolved Cd concentrations in overlying water about 110 times higher than the criteria continuous concentration set by Environmental Protection Agency. Hourly changes were found to coincide and correlate between dissolved Cd and dissolved organic matter (DOM) under simulated anaerobic conditions, strongly suggesting that the sudden outbreak of Cd pollution observed in the field resulted from the complexation of DOM with Cd in sediments. This was further supported by the NICA-Donnan model that more than 71% of dissolved Cd in the pore water in May and June was present as Cd-DOM complexes. Three components of DOM including humic-, tryptophan-, and tyrosine-like components in the sediments in June was identified using the fluorescence excitation emission matrix-parallel factor analysis. We found that Cd was stable complexed with tyrosine-like component. The Fourier transform infrared and two-dimensional correlation spectroscopy further revealed that Cd was bound to phenolic O–H, alkene C[dbnd]C, alcoholic C–O, aromatic C–H, and alkene [dbnd]CH groups. Our study effectively promotes the understanding of Cd mobilization in sediments and highlights the risk of sudden Cd pollution events in the eutrophic lakes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116711
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2021


  • Cadmium pollution
  • Dissolved organic matter
  • Eutrophication
  • High-resolution sampling
  • Spatio-temporal analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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