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Lakes & Reservoirs: Research and Management 2007 12: 285–294

Blackwell Publishing Asia Original Articles

Assessment of heavy metals in sediments and aquatic

Heavy metals in West Lake, Vietnam

organisms in West Lake (Ho Tay), Hanoi, Vietnam

Nga Thi Thu Pham, Alexandra Pulkownik and Rodney T. Buckney
Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), PO Box 123, Broadway,
New South Wales, Australia

West Lake (Ho Tay) is the largest freshlake in Hanoi, Vietnam. It has a surface area of ≈ 500 ha and a total volume of
>107 m3, and is 1–3.5 m in depth. West Lake has been classified as needing protection because of its valuable freshwater
genetic resources. Noting that it has been extensively affected by pollution, the objective of the present study was to
examine the extent of heavy metal contamination of the sediments and commercially important biota in the lake. Heavy
metal concentrations in the sediment from most of 24 samples in West Lake exceeded the Ontario Ministry of Environment
Screening Level for chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) concentrations. Aquatic
organisms from the lake also were found to be contaminated by heavy metals. The average Zn concentrations in snails and
mussels tissues ranged between 174 and 415 µg g–1, and the Pb concentrations between 3.5 and 5.2 µg g–1. The Cu
concentration in shrimp (52 µg g–1) and snail (189 µg g–1), and the Pb concentration in all fish species and shrimp from the
lake (2.0–5.2 µg g–1) exceeded the Food Standard Australia-New Zealand (FSANZ) health standards for human consumption.
The Cd concentration in Cyprinus carpio also exceeded the FSANZ standard. The implications of these study findings for
the effective management of the food and ecological resources of West Lake are discussed.

Key words
aquatic organisms, Hanoi, heavy metals, sediment, West Lake.

INTRODUCTION 2005). Contamination of water and sediments also can

Heavy metals in water can originate both from natural affect the health of aquatic animals, either directly by
sources and from industrial, agricultural and domestic uptake by the animals of the materials from water, or
activities in the drainage basin of a water system. The indirectly through their diet (Martin & Coughtrey 1982;
heavy metals of most environmental concern in water are Lars et al. 1986; Kime et al. 1996). As aquatic organisms
lead (Pb), chromium (Cr), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), are a part of the natural diet of aquatic mammals and of
copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) (Martin & Coughtrey 1982; Lars terrestrial organisms (e.g. birds, humans), their health
et al. 1986; Abel 1989). Contamination by these heavy also is of concern when water systems are polluted (Kime
metals can be expressed by their high concentrations in et al. 1996). Benthic organisms can be affected directly
water, as well as in sediments and aquatic organisms. by heavy metal contamination via contaminated sediment.
Contamination of sediments by heavy metals and other Other studies (Liang et al. 1999; Karadede & Ünlü 2000;
pollutants is considered by many regulatory agencies to be Moissenko & Kudryaytsev 2001; Rashed 2001; Alam et al.
one of the major threats to aquatic ecosystems. Heavy 2002; Wagner & Bomam 2003; Sekhar et al. 2004; Wagner
metal contamination of sediments has been repor ted & Bomam 2004; Begum et al. 2005) have reported directly
for some Asian countries, with accompanying negative on heavy metal contamination of fish and mussels.
impacts on aquatic organisms (reviewed by Karadede & Heavy metals absorbed by living organisms can bind to
Ünlü 2000; Alam et al. 2001; Marke et al. 2001; Shen et al. cellular components (proteins, nucleic acids, etc.) and
interfere with normal functions of the organisms (Lars
*Corresponding author. et al. 1986). The effects of such heavy metal toxicity can be
Email: ThiThuNga.Pham@student.uts.edu.au very serious, leading not only to diseases but also having
Accepted for publication 22 July 2007. potential genotoxic effects (Martin & Coughtrey 1982).

© 2007 The Authors

Doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1770.2007.00343.x Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd
286 N. T. T. Pham et al.

West Lake (Ho Tay), located near Hanoi, Vietnam, at Tay Ho Hotel, as well as 15 small drainages in the Thuy
21°04′′N, 105°05′′E, was created from a section of the Red Khue area. Trich Sai is the biggest drain, with a diameter
River ≈1000 years ago, being the largest lake in the delta of of 3.5 m, which delivers ≈2600 m3 waste water per day to
the Red River. It has a surface area of ≈ 500 ha and a West Lake. The largest wastewater inputs to West Lake are
total water volume of >107 m3. The lake is shallow (depth of from the Truc Bach drainage (≈10 000 m3 day–1), followed
1–3.5 m), and has a thick layer of bottom mud (50–80 cm) by Thuy Khue (3600 m3 day–1). Other drains normally
(Tran 2000). West Lake has been classified as one of deliver ≈500 m3 day–1 of waste water to the lake. Only the
500 valuable lakes requiring protection for its valuable Xuan La drain normally takes water out of West Lake.
freshwater genetic flora and fauna resources. Three Between August and October, however, if the water level of
species of fish in West Lake are listed as threatened in the West Lake is higher than in the surrounding areas, water
Vietnamese Red Book, including Megalobrama terminalis, actually can flow out of the lake through the Thuy Khue
Mylopharyngodon piceus, and Ophiocephalus striatus (Mai and Trich Sai drains. Waste water draining into the lake
2000). contains a range of water pollutants, including pesticides,
West Lake is currently one of the most attractive natural fertilizers, organic substances, detergent, faeces and
bodies in Hanoi. Open spaces are being developed for heavy metals (Nguyen 1997, 2000). It is assumed that the
various recreational activities, including fishing, boating, most likely sources of heavy metal inputs to the lake are
swimming, and sightseeing for locals and tourists. The industrial effluents. The characteristics of waste water
lake also is commercially important as a source of seafood, from the main drains to the lake are summarized in
providing fish (400–600 tons year–1), shrimp (50 tons year–1), Table 1. Although some factories (e.g. Truc Bach Paper
snail and mussels (200 tons year–1) (Nguyen et al. 1998). A Company; Thuy Khue Shoes Company; Hanoi Leather
large proportion (60%) of the tax revenues in the Tay Ho Shoes Company) in the Truc Bach and Thuy Khue areas
District is derived from services and aquatic products of were either closed or relocated during the early 1990s
West Lake (Tran 2000). The lake also contributes to the area’s (Nippon 1999), other companies (e.g. Thang Long Wine
ecosystem ser vices via flow regulation, mitigation of Company; Hanoi Beer Company; Hai Ha Chemical Company;
water pollution, and habitat protection for fish and other Vietnam Movie Company) are still located around West Lake.
aquatic organisms (Nguyen et al. 1998; Mai 2000). As a result of rapid growth of tourism and residential
It has been reported that West Lake’s sediments are development in recent years, West Lake is at risk of
heavily contaminated by heavy metals and organic chemicals becoming seriously polluted from increasing organic
(Nguyen 1997; 2000; Marke et al. 2001). A combined pollutant loads. It receives untreated waste water
drainage system exists in Hanoi for domestic, service and (≈10 000 – 30 000 m3 day–1) from domestic sources (18 000
industrial waste water (paper, leather, brewery, wine, beer, people), traditional craft villages, hotels, restaurants (95)
etc.) and rain water. The lake receives water from seven and tourist cruise boats (15), as well the 51 factories in the
main drainages, including Truc Bach, Thuy Khue, Trich area involved in ink, leather, plastic, paper, pigment, steel
Sai, Truc Bach Paper Company, Thang Loi, Quang Ba, and and beer production (Nguyen et al. 1998).

Table 1. Characteristics of waste water from seven main drains to West Lake

Parameters Truc Bach Thuy Khue Trich Sai Truc Bach Quang Ba Tay Ho Thang Loi

pH 7.5 7.7 7.2 7.5 7.5 7.6 7.5

DO (mg L ) 5.0 3.3 3.2 2.5 3.5 3.1 3.4
COD (mg L−1) 120 100 120 175 160 226
BOD5 (mg L−1) 42 70 55 45 85 67 93
CaCO3 (mg L−1) 130 285 240
NH3 (mg L−1) 2.4 2.4 4.0 0.37 0.004 0.007 0.001
Mn (mg L−1) 0.001 0.001 0.001 0.001
Cd (µg L−1) 0.395 0.398 0.229 0.225
Pb (µg L−1) 5.22 2.2 5.21 1.71
Hg (µg L−1) 0.392 0.11 0.387 0.095

BOD, biochemical oxygen demand; CaCO3, calcium carbonate; Cd, cadmium; COD, chemical oxygen demand; DO, dissolved oxygen;
Hg, mercury; Mn, manganese; NH3, ammonium; Pb, lead.

© 2007 The Authors

Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd
Heavy metals in West Lake, Vietnam 287

The relatively few studies of water quality of West Lake Bach (18, 21, 22, 24). This grouping of sites was based on
indicated that the range values of water quality parameters the location of the influent drains to the lake, and its flow
(e.g. pH: 7 – 9; dissolved oxygen (DO): 2–10 mg L–1; patterns (Fig. 1). The water temperature (20 cm under the
biochemical oxygen demand (BOD): 35–90 mg L–1; BOD5: water surface) and depth were measured at each site, and
4 –57 mg L–1, chemical oxygen demand (COD): 30–140 mg L–1) the sediments were sampled with a sediment grab,
are higher than Vietnamese surface water standards, and following the procedure outlined by Crepin and Johnson
that the lake is in a eutrophic condition (Nguyen 1997, (1993). The sediment from three grabs (1.5 – 2 kg per site)
2000; Nguyen et al. 1998; Ho 1999). Preliminary research was pooled, homogenized and sealed immediately in
by Marke et al. (2001) suggests that heavy metal polyethylene bags and stored on ice. The pH of the
contamination of lake sediments and biota (snails, sediment samples was determined immediately after
mussels, carp, etc.) represents a potentially serious health homogenizing them in each polyethylene bag, and before
hazard to the consumers of aquatic food products taken their storage on ice.
from the Lake.
Studies of tropical lake sediments and their associated Sediment analyses
ecological risks are relatively uncommon. Although a The sediments were transported to the laboratory and
number of studies have been conducted on metals in dried for 3 days at 60°C. They were then ground with a
temperate lakes and their sediments, the associated mortar and pestle, and sieved through a 2-mm mesh
environmental risks have rarely been the main focus. A stainless steel sieve. The sieved material was used for
recent example is the report of Jones et al. (1999), while analysis of sediment particle size and content of heavy
Yaru and Buckney (2000) principally studied the risks metals. The sediment particle size analysis was estimated
associated with sediment-borne copper in some lakes in on the basis of the method of Sammis (1996), which yields
Papua New Guinea. the percentage particle size distribution by volume.
Compared to temperate lakes, tropical lakes such as
West Lake have special management requirements Metal analyses
(Brenner 1994). High water temperatures (22–30°C) in The concentrations of metals in the sediment and
tropical lakes generally translate into rapid biological biological samples (0.5 g dry sieved sediment or dry
production at all levels of the food chain. Moreover, the tissue) were determined after digestion with concentrated
high water temperatures can be expected to make nitric acid (HNO3) at 80 –100°C and 30% hydrogen peroxide
sediment-bound metals more easily available by diffusion (Krishnamurty et al. 1976). Analysis for heavy metals was
in tropical lakes, than observed for temperate lakes performed via atomic absorption spectrophotometry
(Brenner 1994). Coupled with the shallowness of West (AAS) using a Varian SpectrAA– 20 spectrophotometer
Lake, and the subsequent short diffusion and food chain (Varian Australia Pty Ltd, Victoria, Australia).
pathways for metals, these factors suggest that the metal-
contaminated sediments in West Lake could be more Aquatic organisms
easily accessible to the food chain, thereby posing a Aquatic biotas were collected to provide metal accumulation
special risk to users of food products from the lake. data, in order to assess the potential for human health
The purpose of this study was to investigate heavy metal risks. Freshwater snails (Sinotaia aeruginosa, Sinotaia
contamination in sediments and aquatic organisms of West quadrata histrica) and freshwater mussels (Cristaria
Lake, in order to acquire and analyse the scientific plicata, Sinonovacula constricta) were collected from
information and data needed for the development of a fishermen around the lake. Nine species of fish (bighead
sound lake management strategy. carp Aristichthys nobilis; mud carp Cirrhina molitorella; Gray’s
grenadier anchovy Colia grayii; common carp Cyprinus
carpio; goby Eleotris balia; silver carp Hypophtalmichthys
MATERIALS AND METHODS molitrix; black carp Mylopharyngodon piceus; tilapia
Sampling of sediments Oreochromis mossambicus; and golomanka Toxabramis
West Lake was sampled in November 2004 (dry season) to swinhonis) and shrimp (Macrobrachium nipponensis) were
assess the degree of metal contamination in the lake and purchased from the West Lake Fishing Enterprise as the
its biota. Samples were collected at 24 sites (Fig. 1) freshly caught material was unloaded from the boats.
grouped into six areas, including Lac Long Quan (sites 1, Different sizes of each species of fish were selected.
2, 5, 8), Quang Ba (3, 6, 9, 11), Trich Sai (4, 7, 10, 15), Yen Samples were placed in clean plastic bags, kept on ice, and
Phu (12, 13, 14, 17), Thuy Khue (16, 19, 20, 23), and Truc transported to the laboratory. After removal of the shells

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Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd
288 N. T. T. Pham et al.

(snails and mussels) and excising muscle tissues (fish), analytical methods were reliable. The average recovery
the samples were dried at 60°C for 3 days and finely rates of the metals, in relation to the standardized materials,
ground. Samples (0.5 g) were then acid-digested and were 93% ± 12 for Cd; 108% ± 6 for Cr; 92% ± 4 for Cu;
analysed for heavy metals by the previously noted AAS 94% ± 4 for Mn; 66% ± 7 for Pb; and 96% ± 6 for Zn.
Statistical analyses
Quality assurance protocols Statistical analyses was performed, using the Minitab
All reagents used in these analyses were analytical protocol (Rossman & Chance 1998) One-way analysis
grade. Working standards for AAS were prepared from of variance (ANOVA) was used to test for significant
1000 mg L–1 stock solutions of metal nitrate and sulphate differences between the mean concentrations of metals in
reagents (AR grade, BDH – Merck, Victoria, Australia). sediment, animals, and plants.
Sample blanks (two per 30) were included in the analyses,
following the recommendations of Clesceri et al. (1989).
Standard reference materials (SRMs) of various certified RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
SRMs (oyster, fish liver, and sediment purchased from Water and sediment characteristics
Granham B. Jackson Pty Ltd, Dandenong, Victoria, Australia) The characteristics of sediment from dif ferent
also were included in the analyses to establish that the par ts of West Lake are presented in Table 2. The water

Fig. 1. Location of West Lake and

its sampling sites, Hanoi, Vietnam.

© 2007 The Authors

Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd
Heavy metals in West Lake, Vietnam 289

temperature was in the range of 22–23°C. The content of and Tukey’s pairwise comparisons (P > 0.05). Other than
silt and clay in the sediments was relatively low, being for Cr, however, the highest concentrations of the other
6 –15 and 10 –19%, respectively. The low proportions of silt metals in the sediments were observed in the Truc Bach
and clay in the sediments limit the quantity of sediment area (P < 0.05), followed by Thuy Khue (P < 0.05). The Cr
able to be resuspended back into the water column via concentration in the sediments from different areas in the
wave action. This factor, combined with the low dissolved lake decreased in this order: Thuy Khue, Truc Bach, Trich
solids content of the water, accounts for the low turbidity Sai, Yen Phu, Lac Long Quan and Quang Ba (P < 0.05).
observed in West Lake (Ho 1999; Nguyen 2000). The results demonstrate that the sediments in West
Lake are heavily polluted by a number of heavy metals.
Sediment The mean concentration of Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn for 24 sample
The mean concentrations of heavy metals in sediments sites (Table 3) greatly exceeds the corresponding
taken from West Lake are summarized in Table 3. The Mn standards of the Ontario Ministry of Environment
concentration was high, compared to a 2001 study of West Screening Level (OMESL). The mean concentration of Cr
Lake and to other lake systems (Table 4). There was no in the Thue Khue area was up to four times higher than the
significant difference in the Mn concentrations among OMESL value, while that for Cu in Truc Bach area was up
different parts of West Lake (Table 3), based on ANOVA to five times higher, and the Zn and Pb values for the Truc

Table 2. Water and sediment characteristics of West Lake (mean values ± standard deviation for water pH, depth of water overlying
sediment, and sediment texture for each sampling site; each in-lake area (see Fig. 1) sampled at four sites)

Sediment texture (%)

No. of sites pH of Depth of water
Area in lake sampled per area water above sediment (m) Sand (>63 µm) Silt (2–63 µm) Clay (<2 µm)

Lac Long Quan 4 7.1 ± 0.1 1.8 ± 0.2 74 ± 2 7±2 19 ± 1

Quang Ba 4 7.1 ± 0.1 1.3 ± 0.3 83 ± 3 6±2 11 ± 3
Thue Khue 4 7.3 ± 0.1 1.3 ± 0.3 80 ± 3 8±2 11 ± 1
Trich Sai 4 7.3 ± 0.1 1.4 ± 0.2 81 ± 4 7±2 12 ± 5
Truc Bach 4 7.3 ± 0.1 1.1 ± 0.2 79 ± 2 8±1 13 ± 1
Yen Phu 4 7.4 ± 0.1 1.7 ± 0.3 75 ± 1 15 ± 3 10 ± 4

Table 3. Mean metal concentrations in West Lake sediments (mean values ± standard deviation (in parentheses) for each area sampled, as
indicated in Table 2; a mean lake screening level from Ontario Ministry of Environment (OMESL 1994) and National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA; Long & Morgan 1990) are included for comparison)

Metal concentration in sediment (µg g–1)

No. of sites
Area in lake sampled per area Cd Cr Cu Mn Pb Zn

Lac Long Quan 4 <0.05 42a (3) 59a (13) 474a (46) 44a (1) 148a (9)
a a a a
Quang Ba 4 <0.05 33 (5) 44 (13) 444 (59) 40 (11) 133a (30)
b ab b a b
Truc Bach 4 0.742 (0.358) 70 (16) 90 (20) 588 (213) 124 (51) 470b (161)
Thue Khue 4 0.533c (0.123) 105b (66) 56a (22) 454a (23) 68a (17) 254a (42)
a ab a a a
Trich Sai 4 0.075 (0.026) 58 (13) 50 (11) 424 (64) 34 (3) 145a (32)
a a a a a
Yen Phu 4 0.153 (0.107) 43 (5) 44 (16) 447 (65) 53 (14) 181a (75)
Mean 24 0.488 (0.314) 58 (35) 57 (22) 441 (104) 61 (37) 221 (138)
NOAA 1.2–9.6 81–370 34–270 1100 46.7–218 150–410
OMESL 0.6–10 26–110 16–110 – 31–250 120–820

Values indicated by differences superscripts are significantly different (P < 0.05) for each metal.
Cd, cadmium; Cr, chromium; Cu, copper; Mn, manganese; Pb, lead; Zn, zinc.

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290 N. T. T. Pham et al.

Bach area were up to four times higher than the OMESL Compared to three other lakes located in tropical areas,
values. the concentration of metals in the sediments of West Lake
The south sample area in the lake (Truc Bach) was the is high (Table 4). Despite the fact that many of the
most heavily polluted by heavy metals, while the north pollution sources to West Lake were removed in the early
area (Quang Ba) exhibited the lowest metal pollution in its 1990s (Nippon 1999), these study results also indicate that
sediments. Truc Bach exhibited the highest concentrations the heavy metal concentrations in the lake sediments
of the four metals commonly associated with urban remain high. The current concentration could be even
pollution; namely, Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn. Although this latter higher than those measured in a previous study (Marke
pollution likely arose from the surrounding industries et al. 2001), although the spatial variability in the concentr-
(paper, milk, leather, brewing), it also could have arisen ations might explain the dif ferences in this case.
from such services as boats and restaurants, as well as the Thus, the contamination by heavy metals persists, even as
higher traffic density on nearby roads for this area, eutrophication processes increase because of residential
compared to the other areas. The high concentration of developments being developed around the lake (Ho 1999;
Pb, in particular, might reflect the increased use of petrol- Nguyen 2000), which is certain to increase the organic
fuelled vehicles in recent years (Nguyen et al. 1998). The content and the incidence of anoxia in the lake sediments.
Thuy Khue area of West Lake has the second highest The high level of metal concentrations in the south
concentration of most metals, as well as the highest portion of West Lake can be explained by the sources of
concentration of Cr. It is noted that this area is subjected to pollution being Truc Bach Lake, and drainage of waste
effluents from nearby leather, ink and chemical factories, water from the To Lich River. The activities of tourist
and hospitals. There also appears to have been some north- services (restaurants and boats) might be another cause of
ward spread of these contaminants, as indicated by this pollution.
the fact that the Cr concentration at sites in the Trich Sai
area, north of Thuy Khue, is higher than that of the other Metals in aquatic animals
metals. The Lac Long Quan area has more Pb and Cu The concentrations of selected heavy metals in the tissues
pollution than for other metals, likely because it is affected of fish, snails, mussels and shrimp are summarized in
by vehicles utilizing Lac Long Quan road. Although sedi- Table 5. The results indicate that the concentrations
ment from the Yen Phu area contains ver y little Cd, it exceeded the health standards of the Food Standard
does exhibit Zn, Pb, Cu and Cr concentrations above the Australia-New Zealand (FSANZ) for human consumption
OMESL values. The Quang Ba area receives only hotel in some species. The concentration of Pb in all aquatic
and domestic waste water, thereby exhibiting the lowest organisms investigated exceeded the safe standard by four
levels of metal contamination. to 10 times. The Zn concentrations in freshwater mussels
and snails tissue also were higher (up to nearly three
times) than the FSANZ standard. The mean Cu
Table 4. Comparison of heavy metal concentrations (µg g–1) in concentrations in shrimp and snails exceeded the FSANZ
sediments of West Lake and other comparable lake systems standard by a factor of approximately five to 18 times.
(concentrations given as ranges of values) The Cd concentrations were found to be below 0.33 µg g–1,
whereas the Cr concentrations, depending on species,
West Lake (Vietnam) Lake Atatürk Lake were from 1.5 to 17.6 µg g–1, depending on the species. In
Kasumigara Dam Taihu contrast, only the Cr concentration in goby exceeded the
Metal This study 2001† (Japan)‡ (Turkey)§ (China)¶ US Food and Drug Administration standard. Although
some species of fish and shrimp only contained a small
Cd 0.05–1.233 0.2–1 <0.04 <0.03 0.1–0.3
quantity of Mn (below 18 µg g–1), much higher concentr-
Cr 26–163 42–98 10–26 nd 54–67
ations were found in snails (103 –105 µg g–1) and mussel
Cu 24–118 2–27 9–51 14–22 19–26
(up to 6736 µg g–1), compared to Pletholophus swinhoei
Mn 329–897 370–630 nd 73–514 nd
in Duy Minh, Vietnam (280 – 840 µg g–1).
Pb 30–200 4–85 10–31 nd 17–23
The concentrations of heavy metals in freshwater fish
Zn 101–697 7–83 39–184 59–61 57–119
muscle tissues in West Lake are compared with those
† ‡
Data sources: Marke et al. (2001); Alam et al. (2001); obtained from other comparable lakes in Table 6. The
§ ¶
Karadede and Erhan (2000); Shen et al. (2005). concentrations of Zn, Mn, Pb and Cu in the freshwater fish
Cd, cadmium; Cr, chromium; Cu, copper; Mn, manganese; Pb, in West Lake were much higher than those for other
lead; Zn, zinc; nd, not determined. similar lakes.

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Heavy metals in West Lake, Vietnam 291

Table 5. Tissue concentration of heavy metals in aquatic organisms in West Lake (mean values ± standard deviation (in parentheses);
n = 3; values higher than FSANZ and USFDA standard indicated in bold)

Metals (µg g–1 dry wt)

Species Common name Cd Cr Cu Mn Pb Zn

Sinotaia aeruginosa Snails 0.102 (0.05) 9.8 (0.9) 189 (12) 103 (5) 3.5 (1.2) 415 (25)
Sinotaia quadrata histrica 0.155 (0.03) 9.6 (0.6) 186 (14) 105 (7) 4.2 (1.3) 391 (19)
Cristaria plicata Mussels 0.17 (0.12) 9.6 (2.2) 5.1 (1.3) 4308 (752) 3.7 (1.0) 174 (16)
Sinonovacula constricta 0.18 (0.16) 8.6 (1.6) 5.1 (1.7) 6736 (2270) 5.2 (5.2) 234 (100)
Macrobrachium nipponensis Shrimp 0.16 (0.11) 3.1 (1.2) 52 (29) 14 (4.7) 2.4 (0.9) 121 (36)
Eleotris balia Goby 0.03 (0.02) 17.6 (2.0) 2.3 (0.4) 18 (0.1) 3.5 (1.1) 102 (1)
Cyprinus carpio Common carp 0.33 (0.02) 3.1 (3.9) 1.5 (0.2) 1.5 (0.2) 3.1 (1.2) 45 (4)
Toxabramis swinhonis Golomanka 0.06 (0.08) 2.6 (0.3) 2.5 (0.3) 9.2 (1.9) 3.2 (0.7) 155 (6)
Colia grayii Gray’s grenadier anchovy 0.15 (0.03) 2.1 (1.4) 9.2 (8.4) 7.0 (2.0) 2.1 (1.2) 70 (13)
Aristichthys nobilis Blackhead carp 0.15 (0.03) 4.4 (2.7) 1.4 (0.2) 2.7 (0.4) 2.3 (0.9) 26 (6)
Hypophtalmichthys molitrix Silver carp 0.19 (0.12) 3.4 (2.0) 1.6 (0.6) 1.3 (0.2) 2.0 (0.8) 22 (1)
Oreochromis mossambicus Tilapia 0.08 (0.14) 4.4 (2.7 ) 1.1 (0.5) 1.2 (0.5) 3.1 (1.0) 24 (1)
Mylopharyngodon piceus Black carp 0.03 (0.03) 2.6 (0.9) 1.2 (0.4) 0.4 (0.1) 4.1 (1.5) 20 (1)
Cirrhina molitorella Mud carp 0.11 (0.20) 1.5 (0.4) 1.3 (0.6) 0.1 (0.1) 2.8 (1.5) 27 (2)
FSANZ standard 0.2 10 0.5 150
USFDA standard 13

Cd, cadmium; Cr, chromium; Cu, copper; Mn, manganese; Pb, lead; Zn, zinc; FSANZ, Food Standard Australia–New Zealand (FSANZ
2005); USFDA, US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) (UFDA-CFSAN 2001).

MANAGEMENT AND OTHER ISSUES effluents in drains to the Lake. The level of contamination
The Truc Bach area receives the largest pollutant load in appears to be moving from the Truc Bach area to the Thuy
the West Lake, mainly comprising industrial wastewater Khue area, and to other parts of the West Lake to some
extent, because mostly of the wind and wave action pattern
in this shallow lake. These study results indicated that
Table 6. Comparison of metal concentrations in freshwater fish
sediment in the northern parts of West Lake contained low
muscle in West Lake and other comparable lakes
concentrations of heavy metals.
Metal concentration (µg g–1 dry wt) It is clear from this study that the level of heavy metal
contamination in some of West Lake’s commercially
Lake Cu Mn Pb Zn important food species is a matter of concern. This is
particularly the case when one considers human consump-
West Lake (this study) 1.1–9.2 0.1–18 2–4.1 20–155
tion of snails, mussels and shrimp. In regard to the first
Dhanmondi Lake 5 18 2 60
two products, two issues merit mention:
1. The level of metal contamination is sufficiently high
Kola Region (Russia)‡ 1.6–2.4 0.8–2.8 nd 20–34
for buyers to consider not consuming them, or for the
Duy Minh (Vietnam)§ 1.8 2.6 0.3 29
Government to ban their sale. This action would have a
Ataturk Dam Lake (Turkey)¶ 0.05–4.3 0.1–16 <1.67 2–28
very serious impact on the economic livelihoods of some
Nasser Lake (Egypt)†† 0.3 0.03 nd 0.6
of the poorest users of the lake. The social implications
Malibu Lagoon (USA) 1.7–6.0 2–22 0.3–4 3–66
of such an action also would be serious.
Lake Kasumigaura (Japan)§§ 0.3 0.2 0.03 5
2. It is common in Hanoi for consumers to place these
Data sources: †Begum et al. (2005); ‡Moissenko and Kudryaytsev organisms in clean water for up to 2 days before cooking
(2001); §Wagner and Bomam (2003); ¶Karadede and Ünlü (2000); them. It could be that the metals are eliminated during this
Rashed (2001); ‡‡Moeller et al. 2003; §§Alam et al. (2002). 2-day cleansing period to the extent that the product meets
Cu, copper; Mn, manganese; Pb, lead; Zn, zinc; nd, not appropriate food quality standards. This possibility has
determined. not been investigated, however, to the present time.

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In contrast to snails and mussels, fresh shrimp are dead eliminated, the residual metal pollution (mainly in the lake
when purchased. Thus, the possibility of metal elimination sediments) is still a matter of concern, particularly in view
from these organisms is very low unless done immediately of the increasing eutrophication of the lake. As a potential
after harvest. Although such an action would have to be cause of anoxic conditions in the lake, continuing
undertaken by the fishing community, the infrastructure eutrophication also will increase the possibility of
for such an action is presently virtually nonexistent. increasing the remobilization and biological availability of
Moreover, it is not yet clear that metal elimination could be metals from the lake sediments. The highest level of metal
achieved within an appropriate (short) period. contamination was identified near the southern shore of
Although there is no standard or guideline for metal the lake, which still has tourist activities. This study also
contamination of sediments in Vietnam, establishment of indicated that aquatic organisms in West Lake also were
such a standard/guideline is necessary. Guidelines from affected by heavy metals, with the highest concentrations
other countries, such as Canada or Australia, could be being found in snail, mussel and shrimp. These factors,
adopted and used in managing contamination of lakes such coupled with the shallowness of West Lake, and the
as West Lake. subsequent short diffusion pathways and food chain
The continuing discharge of sewage to West Lake, routes for metals, suggest that the heavy metals in the
which will likely increase as tourism and residential contaminated sediments of West Lake are highly available
facilities are developed around the lake, raises a new issue. to the in-lake food chains, thereby also posing a substantial
Eutrophication will inevitably increase the quantity of risk to human users of food products from the lake.
organic matter in the lake sediments (Nguyen et al. 1998;
Nguyen 2000; Tran 2000), which will, in turn, increase the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
intensity and frequency of anoxia in the sediments. Such This study was supported by a grant from the Faculty of
developments can lead to a change in the distribution of Science, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), and the
metals between the various sediment components (see Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training. The help
Tessier et al. 1979), subsequently making the metals more of laboratory staff of the Department of Environmental
biologically available in the future. No evidence of Sciences, UTS, also is gratefully acknowledged. The
sediment anoxia, however, has been reported to the authors also thank officials of the West Lake Investment
present time (Nguyen 1997, 2000; Nguyen et al. 1998; Tran and Exploitation Company for their help in the collection
2000; Marke et al. 2001). Furthermore, no evidence of of samples.
serious anoxia (particularly the characteristic smell of
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