A chlor-alkali plant in Brunswick, Georgia, USA, discharged >2 kg mercury/d into a tributary of the Turtle River-Brunswick Estuary from 1966 to 1971. Mercury concentrations in sediments collected in 1989 along the tributary near the chlor-alkali plant ranged from 1 to 27 ug/g (dry weight), with the highest concentrations found in surface (0?8 cm) sediments of subtidal zones in the vicinity of the discharge site. Toxicity screening in 1990 using Microtox? bioassays on pore water extracted on site from sediments collected at six stations distributed along the tributary indicated that pore water was highly toxic near the plant discharge. Ten-day toxicity tests on pore water from subsequent sediment samples collected near the plant discharge confirmed high toxicity to Hyalella azteca, and feeding activity was significantly reduced in whole-sediment tests. In addition to mercury in the sediments, other metals (chromium, lead, and zinc) exceeded 50 ug/g, and polychlorobiphenyl (PCB) concentrations ranged from 67 to 95 ug/g. On a molar basis, acid-volatile sulfide concentrations (20?45 umol/g) in the sediments exceeded the metal concentrations. Because acid-volatile sulfides bind with cationic metals and form metal sulfides, which are generally not bioavailable, toxicities shown by these sediments were attributed to the high concentrations of PCBs and possibly methylmercury.
Additional Publication Details
Toxicity of sediments and pore water from Brunswick Estuary, Georgia
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology