Sediments and an indicator organism (Macoma balthica, a deposit-feeding bivalve) were used to assess the relative importance of secondary sewage, urban runoff, a landfill containing metal-enriched ash wastes and a yacht harbor in contributing to Ag, Cu and Zn enrichment in South San Francisco Bay. Spatial gradients in sediments and organisms showed Cu and Ag enrichment originated from sewage discharge, whereas Zn enrichment originated from both sewage and urban runoff. Elevated concentrations of Cu in the sediments of the yacht harbor resulted from a high abundance of fine particles. The biological availability of Cu, Ag and Zn did not coincide with metal enrichment in sediments. The availability of Cu and Ag was greatest nearest the sewage outfall and greater in winter and spring than in summer. The availability of Zn in urban runoff appeared to be lower than the availability of Zn associated with sewage.
Additional publication details
Comparison of sediments and organisms in identifying sources of biologically available trace metal contamination