Bioaccumulation of Heavy Metals by Aquatic Macroinvertebrates Along the Basento River in the South of Italy
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In this study, the occurrence of toxic heavy metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, and Zn) and relative bioaccumulation in biota samples were investigated in a freshwater ecosystem, the Basento river, one of the main aquatic systems in the south of Italy, which over the last years has been transformed into a sink of urban and industrial wastes. Therefore, the levels of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, and zinc were determined in water, sediments, and tissues of some macroinvertebrate—which are natural assessment endpoints for the evaluation of ecological risk in aquatic systems. Accumulation factors, as a ratio between the concentration of a given contaminant in biota and the one in an abiotic medium, were considered in order to estimate heavy metal contamination loads in biota. Statistical analysis was performed for a comparative evaluation of bioaccumulation among various macroinvertebrates, according to different feeding guilds. The Tukey honestly significantly different test showed significant differences in the bioaccumulation of As, Cd, and Cr among the considered biological receptors (collector–gatherer, predator, and filterer), suggesting that the biological uptake from immediate contact with the sediment or solid substratum (collector–gatherer), instead of the bioconcentration from water (filterer) or biomagnification along the biotic food webs (predators), is the more effective biological sequestering pathway for these metals. Biota–sediment accumulation factors, commonly used for the evaluation of sediment’s role in aquatic systems contamination, were determined for the considered metals. A linear correlation between the concentrations of As, Cd, Cr, and Zn in macroinvertebrates and those in the sediments suggested that the metal uptake data in macroinvertebrates can provide useful information for the estimation of heavy metal exposure risk or bioavailability when making assessments of sediment toxicity in freshwater ecosystems.
KeywordsHeavy metals Macroinvertebrates Oligochaeta: Lumbriculidae Bioaccumulation Sediment pollution Freshwater pollution
Sincere thanks to the Research Centre ENEA-Trisaia of Rotondella (MT), Italy, for providing samples and analytical instruments.
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