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Quantitative isotopic fingerprinting of thallium associated with potentially toxic elements (PTEs) in fluvial sediment cores with multiple anthropogenic sources

Liu, J.; Zhou, Y.; She, J.; Tsang, D. C. W.; Lippold, H.; Wang, J.; Jiang, Y.; Wei, X.; Yuan, W.; Luo, X.; Zhai, S.; Song, L.

Thallium (Tl) is a dispersed trace metal showing remarkable toxicity. Various anthropogenic activities may generate Tl contamination in river sediments, posing tremendous risks to aquatic life and human health. This paper aimed to provide insight into the vertical distribution, risk assessment and source tracing of Tl and other potentially toxic elements (PTEs) (lead, cadmium, zinc and copper) in three representative sediment cores from a riverine catchment impacted by multiple anthropogenic activities (such as steel-making and Pb-Zn smelting). The results showed high accumulations of Tl combined with associated PTEs in the depth profiles. Calculations according to three risk assessment methods by enrichment factor (EF), geoaccumulation index (Igeo) and the potential ecological risk index (PERI) all indicated a significant contamination by Tl in all the sediments. Furthermore, lead isotopes were analyzed to fingerprint the contamination sources and to calculate their quantitative contributions to the sediments using the IsoSource software. The results indicated that a steel-making plant was the most important contamination source (~56%), followed by a Pb-Zn smelter (~20%). The natural parental bedrock was found to contribute ~24%. The findings highlight the importance of including multiple anthropogenic sources for quantitative fingerprinting of Tl and related metals by the lead isotopic approach in complicated environmental systems.

Keywords: Thallium contamination; Spatial distribution; Pollution risk assessment; Multiple end-members; Isotopic tracing

Publ.-Id: 31386