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DDT residue contamination in sediments from Lake Sibaya in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: Implications for conservation in a World Heritage Site

Humphries, Marc S.
Chemosphere 2013 v.93 pp. 1494-1499
DDT (pesticide), aquatic ecosystems, bioaccumulation, biodiversity, birds, breeding, crocodiles, fish, freshwater, lakes, malaria, metabolites, people, sediment contamination, sediments, South Africa
Maputaland in northern KwaZulu-Natal is a biodiversity hotspot and host to a number of ecologically important systems, including Lake Sibaya, southern Africa’s largest natural freshwater lake. The region is malaria endemic and this study reports the presence of DDT and its metabolites in the sediments of Lake Sibaya that have resulted from the widespread and continued use of DDT in the region. DDT residues (p,p′-DDT, p,p′-DDD, and p,p′-DDE) were detected at all 11 sites sampled, with total concentrations ranging from 0.8 to 123ngg−1. Total DDT concentrations at Lake Sibaya represent some of the highest levels reported in South Africa, with most samples exceeding sediment quality guideline values. The findings from this study raise concerns and indicate that urgent further work is needed to investigate the potential for bioaccumulation, which could adversely affect breeding fish, bird, and crocodile populations in the region. While this study represents the first report on DDT contamination in Lake Sibaya, results have important implications for a number of other aquatic ecosystems within the Maputaland ecoregion, as well as the many local people who depend on them.