Pollutant concentrations and toxic effects on the red alga Ceramium tenuicorne of sediments from natural harbors and small vessel harbors on the west coast of Sweden
This investigation set out to analyze the toxicity of surface sediments in a number of natural harbors and small boat harbors on the west coast of Sweden. This was done with the growth inhibition method with Ceramium tenuicorne. Also, concentrations of copper (Cu), lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), irgarol, organotin compounds, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the sediments were analyzed. The small boat harbors were heavily polluted by Cu, Zn, butyltins, and PAHs, and to a lesser extent by Pb. The Cu, Pb, Zn, and butyltins probably originated from their past and/or present use in antifouling paints, whereas the PAHs probably had multiple sources, including boat motor exhausts. The measured toxicity of the sediment was generally related to their Cu, Zn, and butyltin content, although other toxic substances than those analyzed here probably contributed to the toxicity in some of the harbors. The natural harbor sediments contained less pollutants and were less toxic than the small boat harbor sediments. Nevertheless, our data indicate that the boating pressure today may be high enough to produce toxic effects even in natural harbors in pristine areas. The strongest relationship between toxicity and the major pollutants was obtained when the sediment toxicity was expressed as gram wet weight per liter compared with gram dry weight per liter and gram total organic carbon per liter. Hence, for pollutants that can be elutriated with natural sea water, sediment toxicity expressed as gram wet weight per liter appears preferable.