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Relative Importance of Burrow Sediment and Porewater to the Accumulation of Trace Metals in the Clam Amiantis umbonella

Tarique, Qaiser, Burger, Joanna, Reinfelder, John R.
Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology 2013 v.65 no.1 pp. 89-97
burrows, cadmium, chromium, clams, copper, desalination, indicator species, lead, mercury, nickel, power plants, sediments, vanadium, zinc, Kuwait
The objectives of this study were to evaluate the infaunal, facultative deposit-feeding clam Amiantis umbonella as a bioindicator of trace-metal contamination and the relative importance of clam burrow sediment and porewater to total accumulation in an urban/industrial coastal environment. Concentrations of eight trace metals (cadmium [Cd], chromium, copper, mercury [Hg], nickel, lead [Pb], vanadium, and zinc) were measured in the soft tissues of clams and in sediment and porewater from clam burrows along a 5-km transect from desalination/power plant discharges in inner Kuwait Bay. All metals had significantly greater concentrations in clams collected near the desalination/power plant discharges than from the reference site and exhibited decreasing trends with distance from the point source in clam soft tissues and burrow sediment and porewater. Concentrations of Hg (1-9 ppm [dry weight]) and the highest concentrations of Pb (3 ppm) and Cd (7 ppm) in clams from contaminated sites in Kuwait Bay were greater than human consumption limits. Metal concentrations in clams were correlated with those in burrow sediment and porewater across all sites and at sites closest to the point source but not within the reference site. The concentrations of all metals, except Pb, in clams from the contaminated sites were more highly correlated with those in clam burrow sediment than porewater. Concentrations of Pb in clam soft tissues were more strongly correlated with those in burrow porewater than sediment. These results indicate that A. umbonella is an excellent bioindicator of trace metal contamination and that sediment is an important source of contaminant metals to this infaunal clam; however, the source of each metal must be evaluated separately.