Vanadium as a tracer of oil pollution in the sediments of Kuwait
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Vanadium is important as an indicator of oil pollution since oil is one of the main contributors of vanadium to the environment and because most crude oils contain relatively high concentrations of vanadium (30.6 ± 14.3 mg kg−1 were measured in nine different Kuwait crudes). If oil has settled to the bottom and biodegradation has taken place, it is obvious that enrichment of vanadium in the sediment may be observed.
More than 200 sampling sites were selected in the coastal zone of Kuwait and sediment samples were analyzed for grain size distribution, CaC03 content, heavy metals and TOC. The analytical results were normalized by taking into account the natural background levels of vanadium in different sediment fractions.
After evaluation of the results, vanadium enrichments of as much as 10 to 77 mg kg−1 were found at 15 sampling locations and of 1 to 10 mg kg−1 at many others. The areas of vanadium enrichment in the sediments were located 3–5 km from the shoreline in the areas of wastewater discharges, near oil loading piers and in the shipping ‘channels’. There was no correlation between vanadium and TOC indicating that biodegradation of oils had taken place. However, high TOC values in the sediments were determined in the near shore sediments around the outlets.
Keywordsheavy metals vanadium marine sediment oil pollution
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