This research has focused on the source identification, concentration, and ecological risk assessment of eight heavy metals in the largest karst wetland (Huixian) of south China. Numerous samples from superficial soil and sediment within ten representative landuse types were collected and examined, and the results were analyzed using multiple methods. Single pollution index (Pi
) results were underpinned by the Geoaccumulation index (Igeo
) method, in which Cd was observed as the priority pollutant with the highest contamination degree in this area. As for the most polluted landuse type, via applying Nemerow’s synthetical contamination index (PN
) and Potential ecological risk index (RI
), the river and rape field posed the highest ecological risks, while moderate for the rest. To quantify the drivers of the contaminants, a principal component analysis (PCA) was carried out and weathering of the watershed’s parent carbonate rocks was found to be the main possible origin, followed by anthropogenic sources induced by agricultural fertilizer. Considering the impacts of these potentially toxic elements on public health, the results of this study are essential to take preventive actions for environmental protection and sustainable development in the region.
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