Xie, Z.; Zhang, H.; Zhao, X.; Du, Z.; Xiang, L., and Wang, W., 2016. Assessment of heavy metal contamination and wetland management in a newly created coastal natural reserve, China.
The investigation of the content and distribution of heavy metals in coastal soils is useful for improving our understanding of biogeochemical cycles and their potential feedback to global environmental change. The accumulation of heavy metals in the Yellow River Delta (YRD) was investigated using 43 sampling sites to determine the concentrations and vertical distribution of heavy metals. Factor analysis, contamination factors, and the geoaccumulation index were applied to evaluate the contamination condition. The contamination factors and geoaccumulation index clearly indicated that the coastal ecosystems are still in their pristine state with respect to metal pollution. Factor loadings reveal that the first principal component was strongly and positively related to arsenic, chromium, copper, nickel, lead, and zinc, while the second showed highly positive factor loading on cadmium. The study demonstrated that sediment quality in the Yellow River Delta generally met the primary sediment criteria of Chinese marine sediment quality (standard no. GB 18668-20020). The YRD could still be regarded as a “clean site” because several typical heavy metals were found to have accumulated less in this region compared with other regions, e.g., the Pearl River Delta, which was heavily contaminated by heavy metals during the past decades. There is a critical need for a holistic approach to monitor heavy metal concentrations and distributions, as well as a comprehensive strategy to prevent health risks. The findings of this study could contribute to wetland conservation and management in coastal YRD regions.