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The distribution of organochlorine pesticides in sediments from iSimangaliso Wetland Park: Ecological risks and implications for conservation in a biodiversity hotspot

Buah-Kwofie, Archibold, Humphries, Marc S.
Environmental pollution 2017 v.229 pp. 715-723
DDD (pesticide), DDE (pesticide), DDT (pesticide), HCH (pesticide), Hippopotamidae, aldrin, bioaccumulation, biodiversity, coasts, crocodiles, ecotoxicology, endosulfan, endrin, estuaries, heptachlor, isomers, lakes, malaria, risk, sediments, water birds, watersheds, wetlands, South Africa
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage site, located on the east coast of South Africa, spans ∼3300 km2 and constitutes the largest protected estuarine environment for hippopotami, crocodiles and aquatic birds in Africa. Given the ecological importance of this site and continued use of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) in the region, this study focused on the nature, distribution and potential sources of organochlorine contamination within iSimangaliso Wetland Park. OCPs were widely distributed in surface sediment samples obtained from the four main Ramsar wetland systems within the park (Lake St Lucia, Mkhuze, Lake Sibaya and Kosi Bay). ∑HCH and ∑DDT were the dominant contaminants detected with concentrations in the range of 26.29–282.5 ng/g and 34.49–262.4 ng/g, respectively. ∑DDT concentrations revealed a distinctive gradient, with significantly higher concentrations at Kosi Bay and Lake Sibaya attributed to the application of DDT for malaria control. p,p'-DDE and p,p'-DDD were the dominant isomers detected, but the detection of p,p'-DDT in a number of samples reflects recent inputs of technical DDT. Highest concentrations of HCH, endosulfan and heptachlor were detected in sediments from Mkhuze and reflect the substantial residue load these wetlands receive from agricultural activities within the catchment area. Isomeric compositions indicate that endosulfan and heptachlor residues are derived mainly from historical application, while inputs of HCH, aldrin and endrin could be attributed to more recent usage at several sites. OCP sediment concentrations from iSimangaliso represent the highest yet recorded in South Africa and some of the highest reported globally this century. Sediments found within the lakes and wetlands of iSimangaliso represent large reservoirs of contaminants that pose ecotoxicological threats to this globally important biodiversity hotspot. Detailed investigation into the bioaccumulation and toxicological risks of OCPs within the wetland park is urgently required.