Toxicity of sediments and pore water from Brunswick Estuary, Georgia

Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
By: , and 



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 μg/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 μg/g, and polychlorobiphenyl (PCB) concentrations ranged from 67 to 95 μg/g. On a molar basis, acid-volatile sulfide concentrations (20–45 μmol/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.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Toxicity of sediments and pore water from Brunswick Estuary, Georgia
Series title Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
DOI 10.1007/BF00210729
Volume 25
Issue 3
Year Published 1993
Language English
Publisher Springer-Verlag
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 6 p.
First page 371
Last page 376
Country United States
State Georgia
Other Geospatial Brunswick Estuary, Turtle River
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