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Environ Int. 2004 Sep;30(7):973-80.

A review of factors affecting the release and bioavailability of contaminants during sediment disturbance events.

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Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Remembrance Avenue, Burnham on Crouch, Essex CM0 8HA, UK.


The factors affecting the release and bioavailability of contaminants present in sediments during natural and anthropogenic disturbance events are discussed and our current state of understanding of these processes reviewed. Published data are focused on the distribution of contaminants within undisturbed sediment, their affinities to the various solid-phase fractions of sediment and the interaction of contaminants between sediment and pore water. Sediment disturbance can lead to changes in the chemical properties of sediment that stimulate the mobilisation of contaminants. Research shows that changes in both redox potential (Eh) and pH can accelerate desorption, partitioning, bacterial degradation and the oxidation of organic contaminants. However, these processes are both sediment- and compound-specific. By affecting the affinity of contaminants to sediments, disturbance events in turn can have a significant effect on their bioavailability. Few studies have examined this phenomenon, and it is clear from the data available that there are gaps in our understanding in a number of key areas when assessing the release of contaminants from sediments: the fate of contaminants in undisturbed sediments and those that are not subjected to major disturbances, the kinetic processes that regulate metal release during changes in redox potential, the release of organometallic compounds from sediments during resuspension, the bioavailability of organic and organometallic compounds and the processes affecting contaminant release.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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