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Spatio-temporal analysis of the potential toxicological burden of pollutants in a fluvial system, the River Irwell, Manchester, through anthropogenic activities (present and historical) and natural mechanisms

Mahmood, Haseeb and Pemberton, Robert ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0756-0150 (2021) Spatio-temporal analysis of the potential toxicological burden of pollutants in a fluvial system, the River Irwell, Manchester, through anthropogenic activities (present and historical) and natural mechanisms. North West Geography, 21 (1). ISSN 1476-1580

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Abstract

Anthropogenic addition of trace metals (lead, cadmium, copper, zinc and nickel), metalloids (arsenic) and common pollutingions (phosphate, nitrate, sodium and chlorine) to rivers degrades water quality and affects human, animal and plant health. The River Irwell, Greater Manchester, which has a long history of industrial pollution, was sampled along a rural-urban transect during summer (July) and autumn (November) to assess water quality of the river. Analysis of trace metals, metalloids and ions, via ICP-OES and IC, found concentrations of cadmium, copper, lead, zinc, phosphate and sodium exceeding environmental quality standards. Water quality has improved since the 1980s, but concentrations of copper, zinc and phosphate remain above guidelines and require urgent remediation. Several potential pollution sources were identified, including wastewater treatment plants, agricultural run-off and urban centres.

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