Ratio of turbidity and TSS (Tur/TSS) was used to characterize PSD of stormwater particles.
Pb and Zn preferred to accumulate in finer RDS, while Cu, Cr and Ni in coarser RDS.
HMs pollution in stormwater particles increased linearly with Tur/TSS.
Dissolvability of HMs and PSD variations contribute to the differences between RDS and stormwater.
Stormwater runoff, derived from the wash-off of road-deposited sediments (RDS), contains elevated heavy metal (HM) concentrations and, thus, imposes an increasing threat to urban aquatic ecosystems. In-depth understanding of the variations of HMs pollution from RDS to stormwater during transport processes facilitates the development of effective RDS and stormwater control strategies. Toward this end, the distribution of HMs (Cu, Pb, Zn, Cr, and Ni) in RDS and stormwater were investigated simultaneously. The results show a preferential accumulation of Pb and Zn in the finer (<38.5 μm) RDS, and Cu, Cr and Ni in the coarser (38.5–150 μm) RDS. For stormwater, n.d.~48.6% of HMs fractionated into the dissolved phase, and stormwater particles constitute the primary carriers of HMs. Furthermore, the accumulation of HMs in stormwater particles increased linearly with finer particle size distributions (PSD). Geoaccumulation index (Igeo) highlighted the predominant pollution of both RDS and stormwater particles by Cu, Pb and Zn. Nonetheless, Cu, Pb, and Ni mostly contributed the potential ecological risk of RDS, whereas Cu, Pb, and Zn mainly contributed that of stormwater particles. Moreover, contamination by Cu, Pb and Zn was significantly higher in stormwater particles than that in RDS. These differences are attributable to the solubility and size-dependent accumulation of HMs in RDS, as well as the PSD variations during transport processes. The study outcomes highlight the importance of very fine (nano- and submicron- scale) RDS in stormwater pollution and the necessity of control.