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Ecosystem effects of materials proposed for thin-layer capping of contaminated sediments
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
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2012 (English)In: Marine Ecology Progress Series, ISSN 0171-8630, E-ISSN 1616-1599, Vol. 449, 27-U46 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Ecotoxicological effects of 2 carbonaceous and 7 mineral capping materials suggested for in situ remediation of contaminated sediments in the Grenland fjords, Norway, were investigated in a mesocosm experiment. The primary objective was to compare the various materials with regard to potentially harmful effects on the benthic ecosystem. The materials assessed were activated carbon, Kraft-lignin, sand and clay materials, and 3 industrial by-products. Using sediment box-core samples with intact benthic communities, effects on structural (bacterial, macro-and meiofauna diversity) and functional (sediment-to-water nutrient fluxes, oxygen fluxes and bacterial production) endpoints were assessed. Significant deviations from the control (no capping) were detected for all of the tested materials for at least one endpoint. Generally, materials similar to the indigenous sediment (clay, sand) had relatively low deviations from the control, whereas industrial products (plaster, 2 types of crushed marble) resulted in deviations for most endpoints and large reductions in community richness and abundance. For example, at the end of the experimental period, the number of macrofauna taxa was <10 in these treatments, compared to >27 in uncapped mesocosm and field control sediments. The results from the study show that reducing harmful ecosystem effects from thin-layer capping by selecting capping materials based on robust, multi-endpoint mesocosm bench-tests is both possible and recommendable. Potential ecosystem impacts are particularly important to consider when large areas and areas with adequate ecological status are considered for thin-layer capping.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 449, 27-U46 p.
Keyword [en]
Remediation in situ, Activated carbon, Clay, Structural and functional effects, Benthic organisms, Sediment, Mesocosm
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-76760DOI: 10.3354/meps09546ISI: 000301231500003OAI: diva2:527141
7Available from: 2012-05-17 Created: 2012-05-16 Last updated: 2013-10-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. In situ remediation of contaminated sediments using thin-layer capping: efficiency in contaminant retention and ecological implications
Open this publication in new window or tab >>In situ remediation of contaminated sediments using thin-layer capping: efficiency in contaminant retention and ecological implications
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs) often reside in sediments sorbed to particles, most tightly to particles with high content of organic carbon. If persistent, such pollutants can accumulate in the sediment for many years and constitute a contamination risk for sediment-living organisms and organisms at higher trophic levels, including humans.

Since traditional remediation techniques are associated with complications (e.g. release of contaminants during dredging operations, disturbance of benthic faunal communities), or constraints (handling of large amounts of contaminated sediment and water, limitations due to depth and size of the area, high costs), there is a need for new alternative methods.

In situ remediation through thin-layer capping (a few centimeter cover) with a sorbing material such as activated carbon (AC) has been proposed as an alternative remediation method. Compared to traditional remediation techniques, AC amendment in a thin layer means less material handling and lower costs and is assumed to be less disruptive to benthic communities. The objectives of this thesis were to investigate the ecological effects from thin layer capping as well as the efficiency in contaminant retention.

Thin layer capping amended with AC proved to reduce availability of HOCs to the tested organisms, the gastropod Nassarius nitidus (Paper II), the clam Abra nitida (Paper III) and to polychaete worms  (Paper II and III). The remediation technique also decreased the sediment-to-water fluxes of the contaminants (Paper II and III).

However, AC amended thin-layer capping was also found to cause negative biological effects. In laboratory studies with only a few species the negative effects were minor, or difficult to discern with the endpoints used (Paper II and III). In a larger multi-species mesocosm (boxcore) study, on the other hand, the negative effects were more prominent (Paper I) and in a large scale field study the benthic community was found to be profoundly disturbed by the AC amendment, with the effects persisting or even worsening ca one year (14 months) post amendment (Paper IV).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, 2013. 34 p.
Contaminated Sediment Remediation, Activated Carbon, Benthic Community, Ecological Effects, Stress, Resilience, Contaminant Sequestration, Capping Efficiency, Bioavailability, Bioaccumulation, Sediment-to-water fluxes
National Category
Biological Sciences Environmental Sciences Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-94845 (URN)978-91-7447-795-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-11-15, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)
Swedish Research Council, 210-2007-282Formas, 210-2007-282Vinnova, 210-2007-282

At the time of the doctoral defence the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript; Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-10-24 Created: 2013-10-16 Last updated: 2014-06-27Bibliographically approved

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Samuelsson, Göran S.Gunnarsson, Jonas S.Nascimento, Francisco J. A.Cornelissen, Gerard
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Department of Systems EcologyDepartment of Applied Environmental Science (ITM)
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