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Phthalates, heavy metals and PAHs in an overpopulated coastal region: Inferences from Abruzzo, central Italy

Stoppa, Francesco, Schiazza, Mariangela, Pellegrini, Jacopo, Ambrosio, Francesco Antonio, Rosatelli, Gianluigi, D'Orsogna, Maria R.
Marine pollution bulletin 2017 v.125 no.1-2 pp. 501-512
air, aquatic environment, breathing, coasts, dermal exposure, heavy metals, ingestion, littoral zone, marine sediments, phthalates, pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, risk, rivers, sediment transport, water pollution, Adriatic Sea, Italy
Phthalates are an emerging class of environmental pollutants whose distribution and effects in aquatic environments are not well characterized. We analyzed intertidal and emerged beach sediments from the Abruzzo coastline, along the Adriatic Sea, finding significant phthalate concentrations in marine sediments. Phthalate baseline levels in the intertidal environment, marked by substantial interplay of sediment, water and air, were determined. We used statistical rank methods to select representative phthalate compositions, for which we derived risk levels for ingestion, dermal absorption and inhalation. Our study shows that phthalates are a major cause of pollution along the Abruzzo coast, with river transport of sediments a continuous source of replenishment. Phthalate concentrations in two specific sites were determined to be of the same order of magnitude as the safety, remediation-warranting, threshold set by Italian law. Phthalates, heavy metals, PAHs appear to be correlated. We discuss possible intervention and mitigation strategies.