At the beginning of 2000, a major mining accident occurred in the Romanian part of the Tisza catchment area due to tailings dam failure releasing huge amounts of heavy metals to the river. Sediment samples were taken from the main riverbed at six sites in Hungary, on March 16, 2000. The objective of this work was to characterize the anthropogenic particles in river sediment previously selected by single-particle electron probe X-ray microanalysis (EPMA). The trace element composition, heterogeneity and heavy metal speciation of individual particles was studied using synchrotron radiation-based microbeam X-ray emission and absorption methods. Particles were selected only from samples regarded as polluted sediment. White-beam micro X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) allowed the quantitative determination of heavy metals such as cadmium in individual particles. The maximum observed concentration of cadmium (> 700 μg/g) indicates that this highly toxic heavy metal is concentrated in individual anthropogenic particles. Using the combination of micro X-ray absorption near-edge structure and target-transformation principle component analysis, quantitative chemical speciation of copper and zinc was feasible on individual sediment particles. Heavy metals in most of the particles released from the pollution site remained in the sulfide form resulting in a limited mobility of these metals. Based on the information obtained using microanalytical methods, the estimation of the environmental mobility of heavy metals connected to microparticles becomes possible.
- Chemical speciation
- Micro-X-ray absorption near-edge structure
- Micro-X-ray fluorescence
- River sediment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics