Soil cadmium (Cd) contamination is attributable to many sources, among which the ceramic industry is probably an important contributor whose relationship will be explored in this study. Upon studying a town in southeastern China that is quite famous for its ceramics, we observed that the soil Cd distribution agreed with the local ceramic industry's distribution in space and time from 2004 to 2014. Ceramic and pigment samples from a typical factory were selected in a case study, and a sediment core from a nearby river was collected. First, an application of the geo-accumulation index suggested that the sediment was very strongly polluted by Cd (mean 1874 mg/kg). Second, sediment dating indicated that the Cd concentration surge and the establishment of the factory were proximate in time (2002-2004). Third, principal component analysis showed high loading of Cd (0.947) solely, suggesting that the factory was most likely responsible for the Cd pollution found in the sediments of a nearby river. Finally, we infer that the soil cadmium pollution in the whole area may be related to the region's prosperous ceramic industry. Local government should reinforce controls of the ceramic industry and implement effective countermeasures.
Keywords: Cadmium contamination; Ceramic industry; Pigments use; Principal component analysis; Sediment core.
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