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Fractionation, mobility and multivariate statistical evaluation of metals in marine sediments of Cape Town Harbour, South Africa.

Posted on 15. August, 2014.

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In this study, the distribution of possible chemical forms of Al, Si, Sn, Pb, Zn, Fe, Hg, Cd and Cu in marine sediments of Cape Town harbour was investigated using a modified Tessier’s sequential extraction procedure and ICP-MS and ICP-AES for heavy metals determination.

The levels of heavy metals in the environment have increased during the last few decades due to human activities. Overcrowding, overdevelopment and overexploitation in coastal areas occur very often and these create a serious threat to aquatic ecosystems. 
This situation is peculiar to those water bodies that have very restricted water exchange, such as the sea. Heavy metal pollution can emanate from different sources namely; industrial activities, domestic water and more so from shipping traffic, particularly close to the harbour mouth.
Cape Town harbour is one of the busiest ports in South Africa, handling the largest amount of fresh fruit and is second only to Durban as a port container.

Sediments are the main repository of heavy metals in the marine environment and play an important role in the transport and storage of potentially hazardous metals.The characteristics of sediments depend on its mineral composition, percentage of organic matter, sorption capacity for pollutants, porosity and particle size distribution. The properties of sediments influence the concentration of the pollutant in the sediment. Sediments can act as a scavenger agent for heavy metal and absorptive sink in aquatic environment. Sediments are therefore suggested to be an appropriate indicator of heavy metal pollution.

Authors: Hussein K. Okoro, Olalekan S. Fatoki, Folahan A. Adekola, Bhekumusa J. Ximba and Reinette G. Snyman

Read the full article in Chemical Speciation and Bioavailability, Volume 26, Number 3, August 2014, pp. 126-138.

DOI:10.3184/095422914X14038001068544

Image: Map showing sampling points on Cape Town Harbour