Possible impacts of Hg and PAH contamination on benthic foraminiferal assemblages: An example from the Sicilian coast, central Mediterranean

Rodolfo Neri, Adriana Bellanca, Rossella Di Leonardo, Lucilla Capotondi, Andrew Cundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Palermo and Augusta urban/industrial areas (Sicily) are examples of contaminated coastal environments with a relatively highinflux of unregulated industrial and domestic effluents. Three sediment box-cores were collected offshore of these urban/industrialareas in water depths of 60–150mduring two cruises (summers 2003/2004), dated by 210Pb and 137Cs, and analysed for total mercuryconcentration and total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentration. Benthic foraminiferal assemblages were alsoexamined (in terms of their distribution and morphology) to assess the potential use of benthic foraminifera as bioindicators ofpollutant input and environmental change in these Mediterranean shelf environments. The Hg and PAHs vs depth profiles show a clearincrease in concentration with decreasing depth. Most of the sediments are highly enriched in mercury and show concentrations morethan 20 times the background mercury value estimated for sediments from the Sicily Strait. The Hg and PAH concentrations appear tobe potentially hazardous, grossly exceeding national and international regulatory guidelines. A reduction in abundance of benthicforaminifera, increasing percentages of tests with various morphological deformities, and the dominance of opportunistic species inmore recent sediments can be correlated to anthropogenic impact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-183
Number of pages16
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume388
Publication statusPublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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