Trace elements in surface sediments of the Hooghly (Ganges) estuary: distribution and contamination risk assessment

Santosh Kumar Sarkar, Priyanka Mondal, Jayanta Kumar Biswas, Eilhann E. Kwon, Yong Sik Ok, Jörg Rinklebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Our objective was to evaluate distribution and accumulation of trace elements (TEs) in surface sediments along the Hooghly (Ganges) River Estuary, India, and to assess the potential risk with view to human health. The TE concentrations (mg kg−1 dry weight) exhibited a wide range in the following order: Al (31.801 ± 15.943) > Fe (23.337 ± 7584) > Mn (461 ± 147) > S (381 ± 235) > Zn (54 ± 18) > V (43 ± 14) > Cr (39 ± 15) > As (34 ± 15) > Cu (27 ± 11) > Ni (24 ± 9) > Se (17 ± 8) > Co (11 ± 3) > Mo (10 ± 2) > Hg (0.02 ± 0.01). Clay, silt, iron, manganese and sulphur were important for the accumulation of TE in the sediments as confirmed by factor analysis and Pearson correlation. The accumulation and dispersal of TEs were most likely to be governed by both tide-induced processes and anthropogenic inputs from point and non-point sources. Enrichment factor analysis and geoaccumulation index revealed serious contamination of the sediments with Se and As, while comparing the consensus-based sediment quality guidelines (SQGs), adverse biological effects to benthic fauna might be caused by As, Cu, Ni and Cr. This investigation may serve as a model study and recommends continuous monitoring of As, Se, Cu, Ni and Cr to ascertain that SQGs with respect to acceptable levels of TEs to safeguard geochemical health and ecology in the vicinity of this estuary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1258
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Deltaic soils
  • Pollution assessment
  • Sediment contamination
  • Sediment quality
  • Surface sediments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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