The exposure of heavy metals to lake bed sediment of scenic areas may pose risks on aquatic ecosystems and human health, however very few studies on risk assessment have been reported for scenic areas. Accordingly, this study determined concentration levels, and assessed contamination characteristics and risks, of heavy metals in lake bed sediment of National Scenic Areas Songhuahu (NSAS) in China. The concentrations of Zn, Cr, Pb, Ni, and Cu were determined in 29 bed sediment samples. Results showed that the mean values of Zn, Cr, Pb, Ni, and Cu were 92.69, 90.73, 38.29, 46.77, and 49.44 mg/kg, respectively. Pearson correlation coefficients indicated that organic matter was a major factor influencing distribution of heavy metals. The results for enrichment factors indicated that contamination rates and anthropogenic inputs of single heavy metals decreased in the order Cu > Ni > Pb > Cr > Zn; results of Nemerow integrated pollution index suggested that 72.41% of sampling sites were exposed to low to moderately integrated pollution, and 27.59% of sampling sites were exposed to strongly integrated pollution. According to results for potential ecological risk index, ecological risks of single and all the heavy metals in bed sediment from all the sampling sites were low. Human risks were assessed with hazardous quotients, and the results suggested that exposure of heavy metals to bed sediment posed no or little risk to human health, and the pathway of ingestion significantly contributed to human health risks.
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