A sequential extraction procedure was carried out to determinate the concentrations of 11 elements (Al, As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, Zn) in different geochemical phases of sediments collected along the Hugli (Ganges) River Estuary and in the Sundarban mangrove wetland, eastern coastal part of India. The chemical speciation of elements was determined using the three-step sequential extraction procedure described by the European Community Bureau of Reference. Total metal concentration was determined using a microwave-Assisted acid digestion procedure. Metal concentrations were near the background level except for As for which a moderate pollution can be hypothesized. The mobility order of the metals was: Cd>Mn>Cu>Zn>As>Co> Pb>Ni>Fe>Cr>Al. The highest percentage of Cd (>60%) was found in the most labile phase. Residual fraction was prevailing for Fe, Cr and Al, while Pb was mainly associated with the reducible fraction. Data were compared with Sediment Quality Guidelines to estimate the relationship between element concentrations and adverse biological effects on benthic community, finding the possibility of some toxic effects due to the presence of As in the entire studied area and Cd, only in Calcutta. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012.