Development of site-specific sediment quality guidelines for North and South Atlantic littoral zones: Comparison against national and international sediment quality benchmarks
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We aimed to develop site-specific sediment quality guidelines (SQGs) for two estuarine and port zones in Southeastern Brazil (Santos Estuarine System and Paranagua Estuarine System) and three in Southern Spain (Ria of Huelva, Bay of Cadiz, and Bay of Algeciras), and compare these values against national and traditionally used international benchmark values. Site-specific SQGs were derived based on sediment physical-chemical, toxicological, and benthic community data integrated through multivariate analysis. This technique allowed the identification of chemicals of concern and the establishment of effects range correlatively to individual concentrations of contaminants for each site of study. The results revealed that sediments from Santos channel, as well as inner portions of the SES, are considered highly polluted (exceeding SQGs-high) by metals, PAHs and PCBs. High pollution by PAHs and some metals was found in Sao Vicente channel. In PES, sediments from inner portions (proximities of the Ponta do Mix port's terminal and the Port of Paranagua) are highly polluted by metals and PAHs, including one zone inside the limits of an environmental protection area. In Gulf of Cadiz, SQGs exceedences were found in Ria of Huelva (all analysed metals and PAHs), in the surroundings of the Port of CAdiz (Bay of CAdiz) (metals), and in Bay of Algeciras (Ni and PAHs). The site-specific SQGs derived in this study are more restricted than national SQGs applied in Brazil and Spain, as well as international guidelines. This finding confirms the importance of the development of site-specific SQGs to support the characterisation of sediments and dredged material. The use of the same methodology to derive SQGs in Brazilian and Spanish port zones confirmed the applicability of this technique with an international scope and provided a harmonised methodology for site-specific SQGs derivation. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.