Separate phases of metal partitioning behaviour in freshwater lakes that receive varying degrees of atmospheric contamination and have low concentrations of suspended solids were investigated to determine the applicability of the distribution coefficient, KD. Concentrations of Pb, Ni, Co, Cu, Cd, Cr, Hg and Mn were determined using a combination of filtration methods, bulk sample collection and digestion and Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Phytoplankton biomass, suspended solids concentrations and the organic content of the sediment were also analysed. By distinguishing between the phytoplankton and (inorganic) lake sediment, transient variations in KD were observed. Suspended solids concentrations over the 6-month sampling campaign showed no correlation with the KD (n = 15 for each metal, p > 0.05) for Mn (r2 = 0.0063), Cu (r2 = 0.0002, Cr (r2 = 0.021), Ni (r2 = 0.0023), Cd (r2 = 0.00001), Co (r2 = 0.096), Hg (r2 = 0.116) or Pb (r2 = 0.164). The results implied that colloidal matter had less opportunity to increase the dissolved (filter passing) fraction, which inhibited the spurious lowering of KD. The findings conform to the increasingly documented theory that the use of KD in modelling may mask true information on metal partitioning behaviour. The root mean square error of prediction between the directly measured total metal concentrations and those modelled based on the separate phase fractions were ± 3.40, 0.06, 0.02, 0.03, 0.44, 484.31, 80.97 and 0.1 μg/L for Pb, Cd, Mn, Cu, Hg, Ni, Cr and Co respectively. The magnitude of error suggests that the separate phase models for Mn and Cu can be used in distribution or partitioning models for these metals in lake water.
- Trace Metals
- Environmental Science