The Effect of Pulang-Bato Spring on the Levels of Copper and Zinc at the Zone of Impact of the Spring and a Section of Butuanon River

  • Ranel C. Larino University of San Carlos, Talamban, Cebu City and 6000, Philippines
  • Josephine M. Castañares University of San Carlos, Talamban, Cebu City and 6000, Philippines
Keywords: Pulang Bato Spring, Butuanon River, Copper, Zinc, Sediments, Suspended Solids, Contamination factor, Pollution Load Index, Geoaacumulation Index


Butuanon River, one of the geographically important rivers in Cebu province is highly contaminated with copper and zinc metals. Different environmental samples including water, sediments, umbrella plant, guppy fish, and earthworms have been collected over the years and all have been found to be contaminated with these metals. A possible tributary that may contribute to the river’s metal contamination is the spring in Barangay Pulang-Bato, Cebu City, which is suspected to be one of the sites for copper mines but was abandoned because of the low amount of copper and instead a spring was uncovered. The spring consequently is assumed to feed the river with solids containing copper and zinc. It highly notable that Cebu is known to be rich in copper and usually zinc co-exist in copper ores. Sediment and suspended solids were sampled at three sites; at the location of the spring, at the zone of impact (ZOI) of the spring with the river and another section of the river which is 20m downstream from the ZOI. Composite samples from each site were taken for six months representing the dry and wet seasons and analyzed for copper and zinc by Flame Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (FAAS). Correlations and relationships were found between the concentrations of copper and zinc in sediments and suspended solids and among the stations. Contamination factor (Cf), Pollution Load Index (PLI) and Geoaacumulation Index (Igeo) were determined to assess the metal contamination in the sediments only. All three sampling sites exhibited relatively high levels of copper and zinc in sediments and suspended solids.  Copper and zinc in suspended solids range from 0.02 to 0.67% and 2.79 to 23.52 %, respectively. In sediments, copper and zinc range from 83.88 - 242.2 ppm and 55.24 to 174.8 ppm respectively for the six-month sampling duration.  Generally, higher concentrations of these heavy metals were recorded during the dry season compared to the wet season. Statistical data revealed varying degrees of significant relationship between the copper and zinc levels at different stations. In the spring, the concentrations of the two metals present in sediments exhibit significant relationship which suggests similarity in geochemical behavior of the two metals at the site. In the same manner, significant relationships were found to exist between the copper in sediments and in suspended solids; zinc in sediments and in suspended solids; and, copper in suspended solids and zinc in suspended solids at the zone of impact. Meanwhile, at the site 20-meters away from the ZOI, the amounts of copper and zinc in sediments are considerably correlated and has significant relationship with each other which was also the case for the copper and zinc in suspended solids. Interestingly, the correlations of copper and zinc concentrations between stations are promising. The three stations are positively correlated and have significant relationships in terms of copper and zinc concentrations in suspended solids. On the contrary, the stations are less correlated in terms of heavy metal contents in sediments. These results suggest that the effect of the spring on the river is determined more by the suspended solid due to its relative mobility compared to sediments. All three assessments Cf, PLI, and Igeo revealed that the sediments are more heavily contaminated with copper than zinc.


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