Metal partitioning in river sediments measured by sequential extraction and biomimetic approaches

Shu Heng Peng, Wen Xiong Wang, Xiangdong Li, Yu Fong Yen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


We quantified the concentrations and distributions of metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn) in the sediments of Tuen Mun River, Hong Kong. The potential bioavailability of metals was assessed with a biomimetic extraction method using the sipunculan gut juices. The sediments were characterized by relatively high concentrations of trace metals. Field collected sediments were highly anoxic and the ratio of simultaneously extractable metal (ΣSEM) to acid volatile sulfide (AVS) was much less than one in these sediments. The majority (>67%) of Cd, Pb, and Zn were bound to AVS, thus their concentrations in the sediment porewater were low. In contrast, Ni was little bound to AVS due to its lower ratios of SEM-Ni to total Ni concentrations. For Cu, relatively high concentrations in the sediment porewater was found, and total organic carbon, AVS and other resistant sulfide phase were the controlling factors for sedimentary Cu partitioning. Net metal adsorption from gut juices to anoxic sediments was observed in metal extraction experiments, suggesting that AVS determined the bioaccumulation and potential bioavailability of most metals in these sediments. Extraction of metals from the oxidized sediments by the gut juices was mainly attributed to metal redistribution from AVS to other geochemical phases. The gut juices were the most effective solvent or extractant than the simple electrolyte solution [I (NaNO3) = 0.01 M] and the natural overlying water. Cd was more easily extracted from the oxidized sediments than Zn that tended to have a stronger binding affinity with Fe-Mn oxide, clay and organic matter. The application of partial removal techniques in metal extraction experiments further demonstrated the differential controls of various sediment geochemical phases in affecting metal bioavailability, with the order of TOC > Fe-Mn oxides > carbonate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-851
Number of pages13
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2004


  • AVS and SEM
  • Bioavailability
  • Digestive fluid extraction
  • Metal speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry


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