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Twentieth century overview of heavy metals in the Galician Rias (NW Iberian Peninsula)

AuthorsPrego, R. ; Cobelo-García, A.
Issue Date2003
CitationEnvironmental Pollution 121(3): 425-452 (2003)
AbstractThe 18 Galician Rias, comprising 25% of the Iberian Peninsula coastline, form a unique system within the European continental Atlantic coast and provide a useful reference area for studies of metals. These rias are sensitive to anthropogenic influence due to the socioeconomic importance generated in these areas by industry, aquaculture, port activities, fishing, tourism and, accordingly, several islands lying within close proximity to the rias have recently been declared natural parks. Aquaculture in the Galician Rias is a growth industry and in 2000 the rias supported 3386 mussel rafts producing 2.5 108 kg year 1, i.e. 40% of European Union total seafood production. The Galician Rias are partially stratified estuaries with positive residual circulation with fresh (runoff lower than 100 m3 s 1) and salt water mixing inside the basins. This behaviour has direct consequences on metal fluxes whereby the rias behave as a barrier and accumulate metals in the sediments. Metals tend to deposit close to point sources and remobilization occurs inside the ria, leading to a seaward decrease in metal concentration. With the exception of the Ulla (Arosa Ria) and Eume (Ares-Betanzos Ria) head rivers and the Lagares river (Vigo Ria) the available data suggest that riverine freshwater inputs are not the main source of contamination. Metal studies reported in the literature mainly relate to Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn, and to a lesser extent Hg and Sn. Studies of other harmful metals such as Ag, Se and As are notably lacking. In addition, the studies have been localized and mainly restricted to the surface sediment. Data of heavy metals in the dissolved phase, suspended particulate matter and biota is scarce in the mainstream literature and should be considered in the future research. From the entire Galician coast, data from seven rias of socio-economic importance form the bulk of the published work. There is an urgent need to standardize procedures, employ ‘clean’ procedures to avoid contamination of samples and regular assessment of analytical accuracy with CRMs in order that results can be compared among the scientific community and produce reliable results. The continuation of coastal environmental studies requires an enlargement of the sampling locations as well as systematic and periodic analysis of known pollution sources in order to decide whether coastal regeneration action is needed. Studies dedicated to metals in the water column are lacking and need more attention in future research. The majority of the available data correspond to the fluvial front (30%) at ria head and, to a lesser extent, to the oceanic front (3%), under summer upwelling events. Current awareness of the rias suggests that they are not contaminated although there is some evidence of important localized anthropogenically induced enrichments at the outflow of the Lagares River (Pb, Zn), the San Simo´ n inlet (Pb) and near to the harbor (Pb, Zn, Cu) in the Vigo Ria, the inner part (Cu, Zn, Hg, Pb) of the Pontevedra Ria, the Ulla River estuary (Cu, Cr, Mn, Ni; Zn) in the Arosa Ria, the inner zone (Cu, Pb, Zn) of the Corun˜ a Ria, the Ferrol Ria (Zn) and the Eume Estuary (Zn, Mn, Ni, Co) in the Ares- Betanzos Ria. In addition, TBT enrichment has been found along the Galician coast, being highest in the industrial bays (Vigo, Corun˜ a and Ferrol). Nevertheless, it is important to point out the lack of information concerning the relationship between metal concentrations in different fractions of sediments and/or water and their bioavailability and toxicity on biota in order to confirm metal contamination dangers. The present paper reviews all the information published on metals in the rias up to the year 2000 and takes a biogeochemical standpoint, i.e. metal presence in the ria reservoirs: water column, suspended particulate matter, sediments and biota, as well as the fluvial and oceanic frontiers
Description28 páginas, 9 tablas, 2 figuras
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0269-7491(02)00231-2
Appears in Collections:(IIM) Artículos
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