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Nutrient, heavy metal and organic pollutant composition of suspended and bed sediments in the Rhone River

Larbaigt, Gérard
Rossel, D.
Tarradellas, J.
Gregor, D.J.
McCarthy, L.
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Published in Aquatic Sciences. 1994, vol. 56, no. 3, p. 220-242
Abstract The environmental quality of the Rhone River (Switzerland-France) has been assessed with a geochemical survey of the pollutants bound to suspended sediments. Ten samples were collected between Lake Geneva and the Mediterranean Sea in November 1989 by continuous flow centrifugation and analysed for grain size distribution, carbonate, organic C, N, forms of particulate P, trace metals, and organic compounds (chlorobenzenes, organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and PAHs). Four bed sediment samples were also studied for comparative purposes. The suspended solids provide lower variance by parameter than the bed sediments and are clearly most suitable for synoptic monitoring. The Upper Rhone River carries a glacial derived sediment with a low nutrient content, the stretch from Geneva to Lyon provides a sediment dominated by carbonate, and in the Lower Rhone the organic matter and phosphorus are relatively increased, mainly due to wastewater effluents and to an industrial P source. High concentrations of metals and organic micropollutants downstream of Lyon indicate a multiple contamination in the Lower Rhone, whereas more specific inputs are located downstream of Geneva and Arles. The comparison with data from other polluted major systems, the Rhine, the Niagara and the Detroit rivers, shows on overall similarity confirming that the Rhone quality is degraded downstream of Lyon. The levels of particular concern are for Hg, DDT metabolites which reveal a recent release in the basin, PCBs with a likely high chlorine content, and PAHs. The statistical evaluation of the compositional variables indicates a limited number of well defined associations, suggesting that the contamination of the suspended sediments results from the combination of numerous and intermittent point and diffuse sources in the Rhone River basin.
Keywords River qualitySediment-bound contaminantsEcotoxicityStatistical relationships
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SANTIAGO, Sergio et al. Nutrient, heavy metal and organic pollutant composition of suspended and bed sediments in the Rhone River. In: Aquatic sciences , 1994, vol. 56, n° 3, p. 220-242. doi: 10.1007/BF00879966 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:154923

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