SEGH Articles

# Assessment of the environmental conditions of the Calore river basin (south Italy): a stream sediment approach

23 October 2015
Daniela Zuzolo from the University of Sannio won the Hemphill prize for best student presentation at SEGH 2015 in Bratislava. She provides a follow-up on her presentation.

In 2014 we carried out a study on the stream sediments of the Calore river (a tributary of the Volturno, the biggest south-Italian river) to assess the environmental conditions of a basin that covers 3058 Km2 (Fig.1) of the Campania region and that, until now, has been only marginally studied from this point of view.

Our study showed that, despite evidence from concentrations of many elements for enrichment over natural background values, the spatial distribution of major and trace elements in Calore river basin is determined mostly by geogenic factors. Figure 2 shows the main lithological features of the study area, while Figure 3 shows the spatial distribution of elemental association factor scores.

The south-western area of the basin highlighted an enrichment of many elements potentially harmful for human health and other living organisms (Al, Fe, K, Na, As, Cd, La, Pb, Th, Tl, U); but these anomalies are due to the presence of pyroclastics and alkaline volcanic lithologies.

Even where sedimentary lithologies occur (in northern area), many harmful elements (Co, Cr, Mn, Ni) have shown high concentration levels due to a natural origin.

On the other hand, a strong heavy metal contamination (Pb, Zn, Cu, Sb, Ag, Au, Hg), due to an anthropic contribution, is highlighted in many areas characterised by the presence of road junctions, urban settlements and industrial areas. Figure 4 highlights the enrichment factors of these elements: 3 - 4 time higher than the background values. The south-western area of the basin is characterised by a moderate/high degree of contamination (Fig.5), just where the two busiest roads of the area run and the highest concentration of industries occurs.

We assessed the distribution of the potentially harmful elements (PHE) and the related interpretations using geochemical indexes, chemometric approach and mapping of the other relevant information, all linked to PHE distribution.

First of all, 562 stream sediment samples were collected, air-dried, sieved to < 100 mesh fraction and analyzed for 37 elements after an aqua regia extraction by a combination of ICP-AES and ICP-MS.

Univariate and multivariate statistical analyses of data were performed to show the single element distribution and the distribution of elemental association factor scores resulting from R-mode factor analyses, in order to interpret the hypothetical origin of elements’ distribution (natural, anthropogenic or mixed).

The degree of contamination of the area was evaluated through analysing the Contamination Factor index and the production of a Contamination Degree map.

This approach proved successful as it achieved meaningful results and interpretations of complex datasets. It represents a useful tool to evaluate the hypothetical origin of geochemical anomalies of stream sediments; it also allows a quantitative assessment of the metal pollution threat to ecosystem and human health.

by Daniela Zuzoloa*, Domenico Cicchellaa, Lucia Giaccioa, Ilaria Guagliardib, Libera Espositoa

a - Department of Science and Technology, University of Sannio, via dei Mulini 59/A, 82100 - Benevento, Italy

b - Department of Biology, Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Calabria, Via Ponte Bucci 4, cubo 15B, I-87036 Arcavacata di Rende (CS), Italy

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## Science in theNews

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

• Fertilizer usage and cadmium in soils, crops and food 2018-06-23

### Abstract

Phosphate fertilizers were first implicated by Schroeder and Balassa (Science 140(3568):819–820, 1963) for increasing the Cd concentration in cultivated soils and crops. This suggestion has become a part of the accepted paradigm on soil toxicity. Consequently, stringent fertilizer control programs to monitor Cd have been launched. Attempts to link Cd toxicity and fertilizers to chronic diseases, sometimes with good evidence, but mostly on less certain data are frequent. A re-assessment of this “accepted” paradigm is timely, given the larger body of data available today. The data show that both the input and output of Cd per hectare from fertilizers are negligibly small compared to the total amount of Cd/hectare usually present in the soil itself. Calculations based on current agricultural practices are used to show that it will take centuries to double the ambient soil Cd level, even after neglecting leaching and other removal effects. The concern of long-term agriculture should be the depletion of available phosphate fertilizers, rather than the negligible contamination of the soil by trace metals from fertilizer inputs. This conclusion is confirmed by showing that the claimed correlations between fertilizer input and Cd accumulation in crops are not robust. Alternative scenarios that explain the data are presented. Thus, soil acidulation on fertilizer loading and the effect of Mg, Zn and F ions contained in fertilizers are considered using recent $$\hbox {Cd}^{2+}$$ , $$\hbox {Mg}^{2+}$$ and $$\hbox {F}^-$$ ion-association theories. The protective role of ions like Zn, Se, Fe is emphasized, and the question of Cd toxicity in the presence of other ions is considered. These help to clarify difficulties in the standard point of view. This analysis does not modify the accepted views on Cd contamination by airborne delivery, smoking, and industrial activity, or algal blooms caused by phosphates.

• Effects of conversion of mangroves into gei wai ponds on accumulation, speciation and risk of heavy metals in intertidal sediments 2018-06-23

### Abstract

Mangroves are often converted into gei wai ponds for aquaculture, but how such conversion affects the accumulation and behavior of heavy metals in sediments is not clear. The present study aims to quantify the concentration and speciation of heavy metals in sediments in different habitats, including gei wai pond, mangrove marsh dominated by Avicennia marina and bare mudflat, in a mangrove nature reserve in South China. The results showed that gei wai pond acidified the sediment and reduced its electronic conductivity and total organic carbon (TOC) when compared to A. marina marsh and mudflat. The concentrations of Cd, Cu, Zn and Pb at all sediment depths in gei wai pond were lower than the other habitats, indicating gei wai pond reduced the fertility and the ability to retain heavy metals in sediment. Gei wai pond sediment also had a lower heavy metal pollution problem according to multiple evaluation methods, including potential ecological risk coefficient, potential ecological risk index, geo-accumulation index, mean PEL quotients, pollution load index, mean ERM quotients and total toxic unit. Heavy metal speciation analysis showed that gei wai pond increased the transfer of the immobilized fraction of Cd and Cr to the mobilized one. According to the acid-volatile sulfide (AVS) and simultaneously extracted metals (SEM) analysis, the conversion of mangroves into gei wai pond reduced values of ([SEM] − [AVS])/f oc , and the role of TOC in alleviating heavy metal toxicity in sediment. This study demonstrated the conversion of mangrove marsh into gei wai pond not only reduced the ecological purification capacity on heavy metal contamination, but also enhanced the transfer of heavy metals from gei wai pond sediment to nearby habitats.

• Cytotoxicity induced by the mixture components of nickel and poly aromatic hydrocarbons 2018-06-22

### Abstract

Although particulate matter (PM) is composed of various chemicals, investigations regarding the toxicity that results from mixing the substances in PM are insufficient. In this study, the effects of low levels of three PAHs (benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, and dibenz[a,h]anthracene) on Ni toxicity were investigated to assess the combined effect of Ni–PAHs on the environment. We compared the difference in cell mortality and total glutathione (tGSH) reduction between single Ni and Ni–PAHs co-exposure using A549 (human alveolar carcinoma). In addition, we measured the change in Ni solubility in chloroform that was triggered by PAHs to confirm the existence of cation–π interactions between Ni and PAHs. In the single Ni exposure, the dose–response curve of cell mortality and tGSH reduction were very similar, indicating that cell death was mediated by the oxidative stress. However, 10 μM PAHs induced a depleted tGSH reduction compared to single Ni without a change in cell mortality. The solubility of Ni in chloroform was greatly enhanced by the addition of benz[a]anthracene, which demonstrates the cation–π interactions between Ni and PAHs. Ni–PAH complexes can change the toxicity mechanisms of Ni from oxidative stress to others due to the reduction of Ni2+ bioavailability and the accumulation of Ni–PAH complexes on cell membranes. The abundant PAHs contained in PM have strong potential to interact with metals, which can affect the toxicity of the metal. Therefore, the mixture toxicity and interactions between diverse metals and PAHs in PM should be investigated in the future.