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Environ Monit Assess. 2013 Feb;185(2):1555-65. doi: 10.1007/s10661-012-2650-9. Epub 2012 May 13.

Metal pollution and ecological risk assessment in marine sediments of Karachi Coast, Pakistan.

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  • 1Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science & Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan.


Concentrations of 12 metals (Fe, Mn, Cr, Mo, Ni, Pb, Se, Sr, U, V, Zn, and Zr) in surface sediments of Karachi Coast, Pakistan were determined to evaluate their distribution and pollution assessment. The measured metals in the sediments were found to be in the range of Fe, 0.84-6.96 %; Mn, 300-1,300 μg/g; Cr, 12.0-319.84 μg/g; Mo, 0.49-2.03 μg/g; Ni, 1.53-58.86 μg/g; Pb, 9.0-49.46 μg/g; Se, 0.25-.86 μg/g; Sr, 192-1185 μg/g; U, 0.19-1.66 μg/g; V, 15.80-118.20 μg/g; Zn, 15.60-666.28 μg/g; and Zr, 44.02-175.26 μg/g. The mean contents of the metal studied were: Fe, 3.07 %, Mn, 0.05 %; Cr, 96.75 μg/g; Mo, 1.34 μg/g; Ni, 31.39 μg/g; Pb, 23.24 μg/g; Se, 0.61 μg/g; Sr, 374.83 μg/g; U, 0.64 μg/g; V, 61.75 μg/g; Zn, 204.75 μg/g; and Zr:76.27 μg/g, and arrangement of the metals from higher to lower mean content in this area is: Fe > Zn > Mn > Sr > Zn > Cr > Zr > V > Ni > Pb > Mo > U > Se. There is no significant correlation among most of these metals, indicating different anthropogenic and natural sources. To assess ecotoxic potential of marine sediments, Numerical Sediment Quality Guidelines were also applied. The concentration of Pb in all the sediments except one was lower than the threshold effect concentration (TECs) showing that there are no harmful effects to marine life from Pb. On the other hand, the concentrations of Cr, Ni, and Zn exceeded TEC in three stations, indicating their potential risk. The degree of pollution in sediments for metals was assessed by calculating enrichment factor (EF) and pollution load index (PLI). The results indicated that sediments of Layari River Mouth Area, Fish Harbour, and KPT Boat Building Area are highly enriched with Cr and Zn (EF > 5). Sediments of Layari River Outfall Zone were moderately enriched with Ni and Pb (EF > 2). The pollution load index was found in the range of 0.98 to 1.34. Lower values of PLI (≤ 1) at most of sampling locations imply no appreciable input from anthropogenic sources. However, relatively higher PLI values (>1) at Layari River Mouth Area, Fish Harbour, and KPT Boat Building Area are attributed to increased human activity in the area.

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