Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : The aim of this paper was to evaluate the potential sediment cumulative damage and toxicity due to metal contamination in a polluted zone of Deûle river (in northern France) from nearby two smelters. Metal-enrichment factors and geoaccumulation indices measured with sediment depth revealed that--compared to background levels either in local reference soils or in world rivers sediments/suspended particulate matter--Cd contributed to the highest pollution levels, followed by Zn, Pb and to a much lesser extent Cu and Ni. A comparison of the vertical distribution of AVS (acid volatile sulfides), SEM (simultaneously extracted metals), TMC (total metal concentrations), TOC (total organic carbon) and interstitial water-metal concentrations in the sediment allowed us to highlight the extent of toxicity caused by Cd, Pb, Zn, Ni and Cu and to raise the possibility of their association with certain geochemical phases. To assess the actual environmental impacts of these metals in Deûle river, numerical sediment quality guidelines were further used in the present work. Sedimentary Pb, Zn, and Cd contents largely exceeded PEC (probable effect concentration) values reported as consensus-based sediment quality guidelines for freshwater ecosystems. As for risks of toxicity from pore waters, metal concentrations reached their maxima at the surficial layers of the sediment (1-3 cm) and IWCTU (Interstitial Water Criteria Toxicity Unit) observed for Pb and to a lesser extent Cd, violated the corresponding water quality data recommended by USEPA.