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Chemical characteristics of urban stormwater sediments and implications for environmental management, Maricopa County, Arizona

Environmental Management

By:
, , and
DOI: 10.1007/s002670010074

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Abstract

Investigations of the chemical characteristics of urban stormwater sediments in the rapidly growing Phoenix metropolitan area of Maricopa County, Arizona, showed that the inorganic component of these sediments generally reflects geologic background values. Some concentrations of metals were above background values, especially cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc, indicating an anthropogenic contribution of these elements to the sediment chemistry. Concentrations, however, were not at levels that would require soil remediation according to guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Arsenic concentrations generally were above recommended values for remediation at a few sites, but these concentrations seem to reflect geologic rather than anthropogenic factors. Several organochlorine compounds no longer in use were ubiquitous in the Phoenix area, although concentrations generally were low. Chlordane, DDT and its decay products DDE and DDD, dieldrin, toxaphene, and PCBs were found at almost all sites sampled, although some of the pesticides in which these compounds are found have been banned for almost 30 years. A few sites showed exceptionally high concentrations of organochlorine compounds. On the basis of published guidelines, urban stormwater sediments do not appear to constitute a major regional environmental problem with respect to the chemical characteristics investigated here. At individual sites, high concentrations of organic compounds - chlordane, dieldrin, PCBs, and toxaphene - may require some attention. The possible environmental hazard presented by low-level organochlorine contamination is not addressed in this paper; however, high levels of toxicity in urban sediments are difficult to explain. Sediment toxicity varied significantly with time, which indicates that these tests should be evaluated carefully before they are used for management decisions.Investigations of the chemical characteristics of urban stormwater sediments in the rapidly growing Phoenix metropolitan area of Maricopa County, Arizona, showed that the inorganic component of these sediments generally reflects geologic background values. Some concentrations of metals were above background values, especially cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc, indicating an anthropogenic contribution of these elements to the sediment chemistry. Concentrations, however, were not at levels that would require soil remediation according to guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Arsenic concentrations generally were above recommended values for remediation at a few sites, but these concentrations seem to reflect geologic rather than anthropogenic factors. Several organochlorine compounds no longer in use were ubiquitous in the Phoenix area, although concentrations generally were low. Chlordane, DDT and its decay products DDE and DDD, dieldrin, toxaphene, and PCBs were found at almost all sites sampled, although some of the pesticides in which these compounds are found have been banned for almost 30 years. A few sites showed exceptionally high concentrations of organochlorine compounds. On the basis of published guidelines, urban stormwater sediments do not appear to constitute a major regional environmental problem with respect to the chemical characteristics investigated here. At individual sites, high concentrations of organic compounds - chlordane, dieldrin, PCBs, and toxaphene - may require some attention. The possible environmental hazard presented by low-level organochlorine contamination is not addressed in this paper; however, high levels of toxicity in urban sediments are difficult to explain. Sediment toxicity varied significantly with time, which indicates that these tests should be evaluated carefully before they are used for management decisions.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Chemical characteristics of urban stormwater sediments and implications for environmental management, Maricopa County, Arizona
Series title:
Environmental Management
DOI:
10.1007/s002670010074
Volume
26
Issue:
1
Year Published:
2000
Language:
English
Publisher:
Springer-Verlag New York
Publisher location:
New York, NY, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Environmental Management
First page:
99
Last page:
115
Number of Pages:
17