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Distribution and potential for adverse biological effects of inorganic elements and organic compounds in bottom sediment, lower Charles River, Massachusetts

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2000-4180

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management, and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission
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Abstract

Surficial-sediment samples and cores collected from the lower Charles River Basin are generally enriched in inorganic elements and organic compounds, including polychlorinated byphenyls, total organochlorine pesticides, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Median concentrations of selected inorganic elements and organic compounds measured in surficial-sediment samples collected from the lower Charles River ranged from 1. 3 to 3 5 times higher than median concentrations of these constituents measured in samples collected from urban rivers across the conterminous United States by the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA).


The distribution of the inorganic elements in surficial sediment throughout the basin appears to be controlled primarily by in-stream processes associated with sediment transport and the presence of an anoxic zone within a non-tidal salt wedge in the basin. In contrast, the distribution of organic compounds appears to reflect local point and non-point sources.


Inorganic elements and organic compounds are present at sufficiently high concentrations at many surficial-sediment sampling sites to cause potentially severe biological effects to benthic organisms living in and on the bottom sediment. Ratios of acid volatile sulfide to simultaneously extracted metals, however, suggest that some inorganic elements would be toxic in fewer than 25 percent of the surficial-sediment samples. Many individual polyaromatic hydrocarbons, total petroleum hydrocarbons, and lead measured in cores exceeded exposure-based soil-concentration standards for direct contact and incident ingestion at areas where restoration of public wading and swimming beaches is being considered.

Geospatial Extents

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Distribution and potential for adverse biological effects of inorganic elements and organic compounds in bottom sediment, lower Charles River, Massachusetts
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
2000-4180
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2000
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Denver, CO
Description:
iv, 70 p.; Plate: 34.58 x 14.50 inches
Country:
United States
State:
Massachusetts
Other Geospatial:
Charles River Basin