Assessment of heavy metal levels in Almendares River sediments - Havana City, Cuba

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  2. Professor Susana Olivares Rieumont
  3. Professor David Graham
Author(s)Olivares Rieumont S, de la Rosa D, Lima L, Graham DW, Alessandro KD´, Borroto J, Martínez FG, Sánchez J
Publication type Article
JournalWater Research
ISSN (print)0043-1354
ISSN (electronic)1879-2448
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The Almendares River watershed covers a large portion of Havana, Cuba and is centrally important to both recreational and other activities in the region. In order to assess current water quality conditions prior to planned remediation efforts, the spatial distribution of six heavy metals and other compounds were determined in river sediments at fifteen sampling stations in the watershed. Metal concentrations in sediments ranged from 86.1 to 708.8 for Zn, 39.3 to 189.0 for Pb, 71.6 to 420.8 for Cu, 84.4 to 209.7 Cr, 1.5 to 23.4 for Co, and 1.0 to 4.3 for Cd µg/g dry weight sediment. Calculated enrichment factors (EF; measured metal versus background mineral conditions) were almost always greater than 1.0, suggesting significant anthropogenic impact on metal levels in the river. The highest EF values were seen immediately below Cotorro (EF > 10 for Pb, Cu, and Cd), a suburban town that has an active secondary smelter, and below the largest municipal landfill in Havana (EF > 10 for Pb, Cu, Cd, and Zn). Further, three sampling stations had multiple metals at concentrations higher than Probable Effects Concentrations (PEC), implying possible local ecotoxicological impacts. Finally, sequential extractions of the sediments indicated that heavy metals were largely associated with the organic fraction, and it was estimated that up to 62% of metals in the sediments would be susceptible to release back into the water column if hydraulic or other changes occurred in the river. These data are being used to prioritize decisions related to the remediation of the river system.
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