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A Multi-Index Analysis Approach to Heavy Metal Pollution Assessment in River Sediments in the Ponce Enríquez Area, Ecuador

1
Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL), Facultad de Ingeniería en Ciencias de la Tierra, Guayaquil E C090112, Ecuador
2
Escuela Politécnica de Mieres, Universidad de Oviedo, 33600 Mieres, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(3), 590; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030590
Received: 25 February 2019 / Revised: 13 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing Surface and Ground- Water Vulnerability and Pollution Risk)
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Abstract

The area of Ponce Enríquez, Southern Ecuador, is one of the most important artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM) areas in the country, where informal mining operations can be found using amalgamation technique, even though it has been prohibited since 2010. Considering the potential impact of these mining operations, the present research focused on heavy metal pollutants in subsurface sediments at 214 sampling locations from several detailed sampling campaigns in the rivers Fermín, Fermín Norte, Guanache, Villa, and Siete. Four parameters were calculated to evaluate the geochemical composition of the river sediment and heavy metal concentrations: The enrichment factor (EF), the geo-accumulation index (Igeo), the contamination factor (Cf) and the pollution load index (PLI). The analyzed elements were Cu, Pb, Zn, Ni, As, Cd, Sb, Sr, and Hg. Due to the lack of standards for pollution levels in sediments in Ecuador, Canadian guidelines were used as interim sediment quality guidelines (ISQG) in this research for comparison with the obtained results in subsurface sediments. The multi-index geochemical analysis indicated elevated heavy metal concentrations in all subsurface sediments in the studied river ecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: contamination factor; environmental evaluation; enrichment factor; Igeo; pollution load index contamination factor; environmental evaluation; enrichment factor; Igeo; pollution load index
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Aguilar Pesantes, A.; Peña Carpio, E.; Vitvar, T.; María Mahamud López, M.; Menéndez-Aguado, J.M. A Multi-Index Analysis Approach to Heavy Metal Pollution Assessment in River Sediments in the Ponce Enríquez Area, Ecuador. Water 2019, 11, 590.

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