Speciation and potential long-term behavior of chromium in urban sediment particulates.

Kevin Taylor, Patrick Byrne, Karen Hudson-Edwards, Judith Barrett

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



    Chromium, a potentially harmful element, occurs commonly within the urban sediment cascade as a result of abundant industrial and transport-related sources. The risks that Cr-bearing particles pose to ecosystems and humans depend on the solid-phase chemical speciation of Cr and its environmental mobility. In this study, we adopt an integrated geochemical approach to investigate and determine the long-term fate of Cr in the urban sediment cascade.

    Materials and methods

    We use bulk chemical digests, sequential chemical extraction analysis, electron microscopy, electron microprobe and microfocus XANES analysis to describe the solid-phase speciation, geochemical characteristics and potential long-term behaviour of Cr in urban particulate matter from both aquatic sediment and road dust sediment (RDS) in Manchester, UK.
    Results and discussion

    Cr-bearing grains within RDS and aquatic sediment are predominantly iron oxides and alumino-silicate glass grains. Electron microprobe analysis indicates Cr concentrations up to 3300 and 133,400 μg g−1 in the RDS and aquatic grains, respectively. XANES analysis indicates that Cr(III) is the dominant oxidation state, with only trace amounts of Cr(VI). Importantly, Cr speciation does not appear to have changed between sedimentary environments and the dominance of Cr(III) suggests limited bioavailability or toxicity under predominant environmental (anoxic and neutral pH) conditions in the aquatic sediment sink. Furthermore, geochemical analyses suggest the environmental mobility of Cr in the aquatic sediment sink is low (compared to other toxic metals) due to its association mainly with alumino-silicate glass grains and its inclusion as an integral part of the glass structure.


    Industrial glass grains are a major component of urban sediment worldwide. The speciation and geochemical investigations performed in this study suggest most Cr within the urban sediment cascade may be resistant to environmental processes that could mobilise other toxic metals.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
    Early online date26 Sept 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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