Industrial and commercial port activities are widely recognized worldwide as an important source of pollution to proximal estuaries. In this study, we analysed geochemical and sedimentological parameters including major and trace elements, organic matter and sediment texture in surface sediments from the estuarine environment of Southampton Water, U.K. Using these data, and multivariate statistical tools [correlation, factor and cluster analysis and pollution indices such as Enrichment Factor (EF), Pollution Load Index (PLI) and the Adverse Effect Index (AEI)], we examine sedimentary trace metal and metalloid contamination, contamination sources, and potential biological impacts of the contamination present. The geochemical data, multivariate statistical analysis and pollution indices indicate that the spatial distribution of trace metals and metalloids is influenced by both sediment composition (and mixing) and anthropogenic activities. Most trace metal and metalloid concentrations are close to local geological background levels, except for Cu, Zn and Pb. The spatial distribution of these elements indicates that the Exxon oil refinery, Southampton port, local marinas and runoff from domestic and industrial activities act effectively as point sources of these elements. Pollution indices calculations highlight a degraded environment as a result of these pollutants, and further work is needed to assess the current impact of trace metals and metalloids on local ecology.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
OCH is grateful to the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT), Mexico for funding through their scholarship program (No. 209683 ). This research was supported by internal resources of the Universities of Brighton and Southampton, U.K. Thanks are due to the crew of RV Callista. We are grateful to L.G. Peter Lyons and Dr. Magda Grove for their technical assistance with the sampling. AC also acknowledges support from the Hong Kong Branch of Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou) in his contribution to this paper.
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