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Different areas along the rapidly developing South Carolina coastline were examined for heavy metal (Cr, Cu, Pb, Ni) inputs to nearby aquatic ecosystems using sediment levels as the relative indicator of contamination. The American oyster, Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin), was monitored concurrently for metal concentrations to assess what portion of the total sediment metal burden was biologically available for uptake and accumulation. This was accomplished by computation of a sediment bioavailability factor (SBAF) that allowed the integration of sediment and tissue data into a quantitative index useful for relative comparisons between areas.
The SBAFs calculated for the land-use practices of recreational marinas, an industrial waste water treatment facility, and an abandoned industrial site were compared and contrasted with each other and with other sites that ranged from pristine to contaminated. A graded effect on availability of metals from sediments to oysters was observed. Those practices with continuous inputs exhibited higher bioavailability factors than did those that were intermittent.
metals, bioavailability, oysters, sediments, hazard assessment
School of Public HealthUniversity of South Carolina, Columbia, SC