Effects of dredging operations on sediment quality: contaminant mobilization in dredged sediments from the Port of Santos, SP, Brazil
Data de publicação2009-10-01
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Background, aim, and scope Contaminated sediments are a worldwide problem, and mobilization of contaminants is one of the most critical issues in environmental risk assessment insofar as dredging projects are concerned. The investigation of how toxic compounds are mobilized during dredging operations in the channel of the Port of Santos, Brazil, was conducted in an attempt to assess changes in the bioavailability and toxicity of these contaminants.Materials and methods Bulk sediment samples and their interstitial waters and elutriates were subjected to chemical evaluation and ecotoxicological assessment. Samples were collected from the channel before dredging, from the dredge's hopper, and from the disposal site and its surroundings.Results The results indicate that the bulk sediments from the dredging site are contaminated moderately with As, Pb, and Zn and severely with Hg, and that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations are relatively high. Our results also show a 50% increase in PAH concentrations in suspended solids in the water collected from the hopper dredge. This finding is of great concern, since it refers to the dredge overflow water which is pumped back into the ecosystem. Acute toxicity tests on bulk sediment using the amphipod Tiburonella viscana showed no toxicity, while chronic tests with the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus showed toxicity in the interstitial waters and elutriates. Results are compared with widely used sediment quality guidelines and with a sediment quality assessment scheme based on various lines of evidence.Conclusions The data presented here indicate that the sediments collected in this port show a certain degree of contamination, especially those from the inner part of the channel. The classification established in this study indicated that sediments from the dredged channel are impacted detrimentally and that sea disposal may disperse contaminants. According to this classification, the sediments are inappropriate for disposal at sea. It should be emphasized that the poor quality of fine sediments discharged from the hopper dredge in the overflow process can recontaminate the environment.Recommendations and perspectives These findings will help to underpin improved planning of management strategies for dredging operations and sediment disposal in Brazil and other countries.