Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 86–94 | Cite as

Development of freshwater sediment management standards for organic matters, nutrients, and metals in Korea

  • In Ae Huh
  • Yong Seok Kim
  • Soon Ju Yu
  • Stella Wong
  • Won Sik Shin
  • Hye Ok Park
  • Ho Jeong Kim
  • Hyun Woo Kim
Environmental Quality Benchmarks for Protecting Aquatic Ecosystems

Abstract

Korean water quality managers are required to promptly develop national assessment standards for freshwater sediment quality due to the Four Major River Restoration Project in Korea in 2009. We conducted this study to develop sediment management standards (SMSs), determining obviously and severely polluted sediment, which could have adverse impacts on water quality and aquatic ecosystem. The SMSs values were derived from the 95th percentile of concentration distribution for organic matter and nutrients in sediment quality database. For the SMSs of metals, foreign sediment quality guidelines (SQGs) were adopted. As a result, 13 % for loss on ignition (LOI), 1,600 mg/kg for total phosphorus (TP), and 5,600 mg/kg for total nitrogen (TN) were set as the SMSs for freshwater sediment in Korea. These values were higher than the range of heavily polluted sediment from USEPA Region 5 guideline derived by the similar approaches for the Great Lakes harbor sediments, and similar or lower than the severe effect level (SEL) from provincial sediment quality guideline (PSQG) of Ontario, Canada by screening level concentration (SLC) approach. However, SMSs in the present study are appropriate considering the concentration ranges and the Korean SMSs’ definition for freshwater sediments in Korea. The Puget Sound marine sediment cleanup screening level (CSL) in Washington State, USA were adopted as the Korean SMSs for As (93 mg/kg), Cd (6.7 mg/kg), Cr (270 mg/kg), Cu (390 mg/kg), Pb (530 mg/kg), and Zn (960 mg/kg) in freshwater sediments. Hg concentration (0.59 mg/kg) of CSL was too low to determine the polluted freshwater sediments in Korea, and the SEL of Ontario, Canada for mercury concentration (2 mg/kg) was selected as the SMS for Hg. These values were found reasonable through the assessment of applicability with the datasets from locations directly affected by obvious point sources. These results indicate that SMSs for organic matter, nutrient, and metals derived within the present study can successfully determine obviously and severely polluted sediment in Korea. However, the SMSs have limits to specifically determine the effects of polluted sediment on water quality and aquatic ecosystem in Korea. Thus, we will revise and specify SMSs considering those effects and further sediment quality assessment framework in the near future.

Keywords

Sediment management standards Organic matters Nutrients Metals Water quality Korea 

Introduction

Since 1970, numerous sediment quality standards, criteria, and guidelines have been proposed in many parts of the world (Babut et al. 2005; Bay et al. 2012). One of the first approaches to derive sediment quality guidelines (SQGs) was based on the background or reference values (Lyman et al. 1987). Other approaches can be categorized into three groups: (1) empirical, effect-based ones which establish relationship between sediment concentration and toxicity response (e.g., the apparent effects thresholds (AETs) (Tetra Tech 1986), effect range low and medium (ERLs/ERMs) values (Long et al. 1995), and threshold and probable effect levels (TELs/PELs) (Smith et al. 1996)); (2) theoretically based ones which account for differences in bioavailability of the pollutants through equilibrium partitioning (EqP) (USEPA 1989); and (3) ecosystem-oriented ones (e.g., lowest and severe effect levels (LELs/SELs) (Neff 1986) and field-based species sensitivity distributions (f-SSDs)) (Leung et al. 2005). In an effort to harmonize between the different SQGs, MacDonald et al. (2000) developed consensus-based SQGs, the geometric means of various guidelines (Long and MacDonald 1998; MacDonald et al. 2000). The Netherlands set the target values (T.V.s) and intervention values (I.V.s) in legislations, and the Washington State enacted marine sediment quality standard and cleanup screening level (CSL) (NIER 2011a). Recently, Flemish Government also incorporated freshwater SQGs into legislation (de Deckere et al. 2011). In Korea, the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) has proposed standards for cleaning up polluted marine sediments to protect coastal ecosystems in 2005 and enacted sediment environmental quality standards (SEQSs) in 2011(MLTM 2005). As for freshwater sediments, neither cleanup nor environmental standards existed in Korea. Water quality managers from the Korean Ministry of Environment began developing national sediment management standards (SMSs) in 2007. Due to the Four Major River Restoration Project in 2009, SMSs have become a necessity for the determination of the polluted freshwater sediment. During the dredging process, several environmental problems arose such as sediment contamination, water pollution, and the impact of dredged sediments on soil in farmland that is used as temporary disposal sites. In addition, SEQSs have become essential to assess sediment quality in public water zones which also came to be necessary. A nationwide freshwater sediment monitoring system had been launched by the Korean Ministry of Environment in June, 2011 (NIER 2011a), and evaluation of the sediment quality from the concentration data, which will be produced by this monitoring was required.

With this research background, this study was conducted to derive SMSs to evaluate the sediment pollution and to winnow the polluted sediment that could have impacts on water quality and aquatic ecosystems. However, we could not derive highly advanced SMSs due to the limitation of ecotoxicological and ecological data for the freshwater sediments in Korea, and we proposed the freshwater SMSs based on the distribution of chemical contaminants in sediments and foreign SQGs. SMSs were already incorporated into the Korean legislation in April 2012 and are officially being used to interpret the data produced by the national sediment quality monitoring systems.

Methods

There were different protection goals in derivation of SMSs for different parameter groups in freshwater sediments. For organic matters and nutrients, the SMSs were mainly suggested to protect water quality. On the other hand, for toxicants, the proposed SMSs mainly focused on the effects of the selected contaminants on benthic organisms. Therefore, different approaches were chosen to derive the SMSs of two target groups.

We first tried to adopt foreign SQGs to derive SMSs for nutrients. Almost all of the effect-based, state-of-the-art SQGs did not include organic matters and nutrients for their chemical parameters, but SEL in Ontario provincial sediment quality guidelines (PSQGs) did. We checked the availability of SEL as Korean SMSs for organic matter and nutrient, but those values were not appropriate to protect water quality, which is the main purpose of SMSs for nutrients. Thus, statistical methods were used to derive SMSs for organic matters and nutrients.

As already mentioned, enough reliable data on metal concentrations in freshwater sediments have been collected in Korea. However, taking into account the main objective of SMSs for metals (i.e., protection of benthic organisms) mentioned above, vast amount of data on biological and ecotoxicological effects of contaminated sediments are also required to derive highly advanced SMSs for metals, but those data are not yet available in Korea. In addition, it is hardly likely that more data will be available in the immediate future. For this reason, we utilized overseas SMSs/SQGs which were developed on the basis of biological and ecological effects as has been done in many other countries in the initial stage of SMS/SQG development (Babut et al. 2005).

Candidate parameters and database establishment

Candidate parameters for SMSs were selected considering common parameters in domestic and foreign standards of water and sediments (Tables 1 and 2). Chemical oxygen demand (COD) and total organic carbon (TOC) among organic matters and nutrients and microorganic pollutants among toxicants had been included in database establishment, but eventually excluded in derivation of SMSs because of paucity of chemistry data for freshwater sediment in Korea. Different databases were established for organic matter and nutrients and for metals.
Table 1

Common parameters for organic matters and nutrients in domestic and foreign standards of water and sediments

 

Parameters

Korean water environmental quality standards (NIER 2011a)

CODMn, TOC, TN, TP

Dredging standards in the Standard Specifications for River Conservation Works (KICT 2007)

LOI, CODMn, TP, TN

Guidelines for the pollution classification of Great Lakes sediments, USA (USEPA 1977)

Volatile Solids, CODCr, TP, TKN

PSQGs in Ontario, Canada (Persaud et al. 1993)

TOC, TP, TKN

Sediment removal standards in Tokyo Bay, Japan (NIER 2011a)

CODMn, TP, TN

TP Total Phosphorus, TN Total Nitrogen, CODMn Chemical Oxygen Demand by permanganate, LOI Loss on Ignition, CODCr COD with dichromate, TKN Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen

Table 2

Common parameters for toxics in domestic and foreign standards of water and sediments

 

Metals

Microorganic pollutants

Korean water environmental quality standards (NIER 2011a)

Cd, Pb, Hg, As

PCBs

Foreign SQGs (MacDonald et al. 2000)

Cr, Cu, Ni, Zn,

PCBs, PAHs, OCPs

Organic matters and nutrients

In order to develop SMSs for the organic matters and nutrients in freshwater sediments, we collected sediment chemistry data from various institutes in Korea since 1997 (Table 3). Screening of the sediment data was conducted because the results might vary according to sediment sampling, pretreatment, and analytical methods (e.g., extraction technique, analysis instruments, etc.). There was limited information due to the lack of descriptions on sampling, pretreatment, and analysis methods. The datasets which did not present proper descriptions on sampling methods (e.g., particle size fraction taken for analysis) were not included in the database for deriving SMSs. The latest dataset was selected among multi-annual datasets in one location. If field measurements in a location were conducted several times in 1 year, results measured in spring or average values were selected.
Table 3

Database of organic matters and nutrients in sediments (adapted from (NIER 2011a))

References

Water type (sampling season)

Number of datasets

(NIER 1997)

Stream (spring)

19

(Baek 1998)

Lake

12

(Kim 1999)

Stream (spring)

3

(RRI 2003)

Lake

18

(NIER 2006)

Lake (spring)

12

(NIER 2009)

Both (spring)

135 (stream), 83 (lake)

(Kim et al. 2009)

Stream

9

(RRI 2011)

Lake (spring)

45

(Chung 2011)

Stream

7

NIER National Institute of Environmental Research, RRI Rural Research Institute, BIHE Busan Institute of Health and Environment

The sediment monitoring data for streams and lakes by National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) were considered as one of the most reliable datasets in Korea (NIER 2011a) since quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) methods used by NIER are highly systematic, and analysis methods are based on the latest techniques and used after performance validation (NIER 2009). The finally selected datasets consisted of sediment analysis results from 343 locations including the streams and lakes in public water zones, urban streams, and agricultural reservoirs (Table 3). Consequently, datasets produced by NIER with the latest analysis methods (e.g., complete combustion methods for total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP)) are dominant in stream dataset. Thus, the accuracy and precision of statistics were affected by the periods when the methods were developed and used.

Metals

The 592 datasets for metals in sediments were also constructed using data from various sources. The sampling locations, methods of sampling, pretreatment, and analysis, and whether QA/QC was applied for assessing metal concentrations in sediments at individual investigating organizations are presented in Table 4. Datasets, which did not have QA/QC, were critically evaluated and then used in the analysis on the basis of the jurisdiction’s credibility in order to utilize as many datasets as possible.
Table 4

Database descriptions to evaluate the applicability of SMSs for metals (reproduced from NIER 2011a)

References

Organization

Sampling locations

Sampling methods

Number of sampling locations

Pretreatment methods

Analysis instruments

QA/QC

(Park et al. 2001a)

Inje Univ.

Western Nakdong river watershed

Ekman dredge (topsoil)

15

Acid digestion (HNO3, HClO4, HCl)

ICP

No

(Park et al. 2001b)

NIER

Lakes in Keum river basin

Core sampler (topsoil/inner layers)

15

Acid digestion (HNO3, H2SO4)

AAS

No

(Hong et al. 2005)

Dankuk Univ.

Sihwa Lake

 

10

High pressure acid digestion (microwave)

ICP-AES

No

(NRWMC 2005)

KNU

Nakdong river branches

Grab sampler (topsoil)

40

Acid digestion (HNO3, HClO4, HF)

ICP-MS

Yes

(MOE 2006)

Kangwon Univ.

Lakes

Ponar grab sampler (topsoil)

53

Not available

Not available

No

(MOE 2008)

KEI

Nationwide pollution-concerned areas

Grab/Core sampler (topsoil/inner layers)

∼200

Acid digestion (HNO3, HCl)

ICP-OES

Yes

(NIER 2009)

KNU

Nationwide streams and lakes

Grab sampler (topsoil)

135 (streams) 83 (Lakes)

Acid digestion (HNO3, HClO4, HF)

AAS, ICP-AES, ICP-MS

Yes

(KEI 2009)

Busan Univ.

Nakdong river branches

Grab sampler (topsoil)

17

Acid digestion (HNO3, HClO4, HF)

AAS, ICP-AES, ICP-MS

Yes

(NIER 2011b)

Neo&Biz

Ulsan, Daegu, Pocheon, Ansan, etc.

Grab sampler (topsoil)

20

Acid digestion (HNO3, HClO4, HF)

AAS, ICP-AES, ICP-MS

Yes

NRWMC Nakdong River Watershed Management Committee, MOE Ministry of Environment, KEI Korea Environment Institute, KNU Kyungbuk National University

Other results by various jurisdictions on extensive number of samples from pollution-concerned areas also existed. The pretreatment method was regarded as the most important factor to evaluate the accuracy and precision of the analysis on metal concentrations in freshwater sediments (NIER 2011a). Total dissolution methods by strong acids such as HCl, HNO3, HClO4, and HF were selected, but sequential extraction methods were not included.

Particle size distribution and TOC are other imperative factors to explain the contaminant characteristics of sediments (Pelletier et al. 2011; Sakan et al. 2007). However, these two factors could not be considered in evaluating the data reliability because there are no consistent normalization methods for them in Korea yet. Bulk sediment data without particle size fractionation were used in this study. The arithmetic averages of replicates were used in the databases if the samples were collected and analyzed repeatedly at the same locations.

Statistical analysis and comparison with SQGs developed in other countries

As mentioned previously, the main objective of SMSs proposed in this study varies according to target material groups. Thus, different approaches were chosen to derive those SMSs for organic matters and nutrients, and metals.

Organic matters and nutrients

The main function of SMSs developed in this study was to screen the freshwater sediments with high concentrations of contaminants, which may have the adverse effect on water quality. There have been insufficient studies on quantitative relationships between sediment concentrations and water quality so far. In the case of organic matters and nutrients, there are very few adoptable SQGs around the world because those SQGs are site specific. For this reason, SMSs for organic matters and nutrients were derived through statistical analyses with the datasets on contaminant distributions of freshwater sediments (Table 5).
Table 5

Comparison of 95 percentile values in Korean datasets on freshwater sediments with SQGs in North America

 

TP (mg/kg)

TN ( mg/kg)

LOI (%)

95 percentile values

Streams

1,553

5,319

6

Lakes

1,541

5,627

15

Streams and Lakes

1,552

5,613

13

Korean SMSs

1,600

5,600

13

Guidelines for the pollution classification of Great Lakes sediments (Heavily polluted)

>650

>2,000 (TKN)

>8

PSQGs in Ontario, Canada (SEL)

2,000

4,800 (TKN)

Two approaches were used after compiling all available information on the freshwater sediment quality: (1) derivation of proper SMS values by percentile approach and (2) correlation between concentrations of contaminants in sediment and overlying water. Results of Kolmogorov–Smirnov and Shapiro–Wilk test indicated that data on loss on ignition (LOI), TN, TP did not follow the normal distribution (data are not shown, and available upon request) (Michelsen 2003). Empirical data on chemical analysis in sediments from a broad spectrum of sites were sorted to identify specific percentiles, and 95 percentile values were used to derive SMSs as obviously and seriously contaminated level. Correlation studies were conducted using sediment datasets over 95 percentile mentioned above and water quality datasets in the database from National Water Quality Monitoring at the same locations of sediment datasets. These correlations were estimated with the parameter concentrations in sediments and in overlying waters at the same locations and times.

Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to evaluate the relationships of the selected parameter concentrations between overlying water and sediment, and between sediment and sediment. SPSS software (version 18) was used for all statistical analyses. Linear regression equations from those datasets were used to calculate the parameter concentrations in sediments from the parameter concentrations in water defining severely contaminated level (0.5 mg/L for TP, 1.5 mg/L for TN) in Water Quality Standards for Living Environments in Korea.

Metals

Many SQGs for metals were developed in other countries compared to those for organic matters and nutrients. In addition, interactions between parameter concentrations in sediments and overlying water were less significant than those for organic matter and nutrients mainly due to the immobilization of metals into the sediment particles. The foreign SQGs for metals were therefore primarily based on biological effects of contaminants in sediments. High-level SQGs such as PEL, SEL, ERM, and PEL for Hyalella Azteca in 28 days (PEL-HA28) and consensus-based probable effect concentrations (C-PEC) were collected and compared to assess which values were appropriate to be adopted as the Korean SMSs with minimal (or no) modifications considering the distribution of metals in freshwater sediments. We selected the foreign SQGs which are capable of discerning contaminated sediments from obviously polluted region as SMSs (Table 6).
Table 6

SMSs for 7 metals and locations with concentrations over SMSs (Reproduced from NIER 2011a)

Elements

SMSs (mg/kg)

Locations where the concentrations were over SMSs

Public water body

Pollution risk area

As

93

•Andong Dam

•Ulsan (9.8-fold higher than SMS)

Cd

6.7

•Andong Dam

•Ulsan (47-fold higher than SMS)

Cr

270

•None

•Gulpo-cheon, Sihwa Lake (1.8-fold higher than SMS)

•Busan

Cu

390

•None

•Ulsan (35-fold higher than SMS)

Pb

530

•None

•Ulsan (25.9-fold higher than SMS)

Zn

960

•None

•Ulsan (27-fold higher than SMS)

Hg

2

•None

•Ulsan (20-fold higher than SMS)

Nickel is not included in the chemical parameters of CSL, and we tested the applicability of other foreign SQGs/SMSs. The first candidate was I.V. from the Netherlands. However, like I.V.s for other metals, I.V. for nickel was also expressed for the sediments with 25 % for clay and 10 % for organic matters (LOI), and I.V.s in application areas needed to be converted on the basis of the contents of clay and organic matters in sediments. The clay contents in freshwater sediments in Korea are usually below 10 %, and empirical equations between the contents of clay and organic matters and nickel concentrations for Korean sediments are not available yet. Thus, I.V. for Nickel is not appropriate for the Korean SMS. Next candidate was the Ontario PSQG, 75 mg/kg for Ni. However, this value is less than two folds of the Korean background concentration (39 mg/kg) measured in 2011 (NIER 2011a), and too low to assess whether the high Ni concentration in freshwater sediments was caused by sediment contamination or by high natural background concentration. For this reason, we did not adopt any SMS for Ni in this study. It will be derived after ecotoxicological database for metals is established. Finally, seven metals including Cd, Pb, Hg, As, Cr, Cu, and Zn were selected for SMS derivation in this study.

Results and discussions

SMSs for organic matters and nutrients in freshwater sediments

Derivation of SMSs by statistical approach

The SMSs values for organic matters and nutrients in sediments were proposed based on statistics calculated from sediment chemistry data since 1997. Sediment data were categorized into “stream” only, “lake” only, and “stream and lake.” In this dataset, only TN, TP, and LOI were analyzed. Values derived from the 95 percentile of the contaminant distributions in sediment collected from streams and lakes were 1,552 mg/kg for TP, 5,613 mg/kg for TN, and 13 % for LOI (Table 5). LOI value was directly used for the Korean SMS, and values for TP and TN were rounded up to 1,600 and 5,600 mg/kg respectively, and then used for SMSs.

The SMSs values for TP and TN were higher than the upper limits (1,000 mg/kg for TP, 3,000 mg/kg for TN) of the dredging standards included in the Standard Specifications for River Conservation Works in Korea (KICT 2007) which are not mandatory but can be the basis for dredging in river cleanup works. The SMSs values for nutrients were developed using recent datasets by the latest reliable analysis methods. These concentration values may be consequently higher than the dredging Standards (KICT 2007) based on the traditional wet digestion techniques using acid and oxidizing agents such as potassium persulfate (K2S2O8) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4).

As an example, NIER (2008) compared TN concentrations analyzed by total persulfate nitrogen (TPN) methods with those measured by elemental analysis in 10 freshwater sediment samples collected from several locations at Han River basin in Korea. TN concentrations by TPN method were only 78 % of those obtained by the elemental analysis (NIER 2008). On the contrary, LOI (13 %) was lower than the upper limit of the dredging standards (20 %). These results suggested that the Korean SMSs for organic matters and nutrients proposed in this study are the most plausible standards based on the latest and most accurate analysis method, discerning obviously and severely polluted sediments.

The SMS values derived in this study were higher than heavily polluted concentrations from the Guidelines for the Pollutional Classification of Great Lakes Harbor Sediments (USEPA 1977)(Table 5). The guidelines for organic matters and nutrients were developed based on the background concentrations of contaminants in sediments at the harbors in the Great Lakes. However, the differences between the Korean SMSs and guidelines for the Great Lakes, USA do not necessarily mean that the SMSs in this study are insensitive to the contaminated sediments. They may be caused by the differences among background concentrations and sediment concentrations in two areas.

The SMSs values were similar to or lower than the SELs from PSQG of Ontario, Canada (Persaud et al. 1993)(2,000 mg/kg for TP, 4,800 mg/kg for TKN; Table 5), which implies that the biological effects of sediment consisting higher parameter concentrations than the Korean SMSs cannot be ignored nor underestimated. The Korean SMSs were based only on the distribution characteristics of parameter concentrations, and there may be difference in biodiversity and sensitivity of the species from the two areas. Their values may be revised after biological and ecotoxicological effects are taken into account in near future.

Correlations between concentrations of contaminants in sediment and overlying water

SQGs from other countries have usually been developed on the basis of biological effects such as biodiversity and ecotoxicity as well as contaminant concentrations. However, biological effects of contaminant in sediments have not yet been reliably monitored and managed by any organizations in Korea. Thus, SMSs for organic matters and nutrients in this study were attempted to be derived from the correlations between the parameter concentrations in sediments and water quality. Even though the correlation was not strong, correlation of concentrations between sediments and overlying water was observed for TP (Cw = 0.0015, Cs = −1.8. R2 = 0.49; Cw = parameter concentrations in water, in milligrams per liter; Cs = parameter concentrations in sediments, in milligrams per kilogram). Based on these correlations, 1,300 mg/kg for TP in sediments was predicted in severely contaminated overlying water (TP, 0.5 mg/L). However, there were weaker correlations in TN, LOI, COD, and TOC concentrations between sediment and water.

The nutrients including phosphorus and nitrogen in sediments are released to overlying waters in anoxic condition. Released nutrients are re-supplied to top layer of sediments, stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, compose new organic materials, and consequently influence overlying water quality (Kim et al. 2005). Thus, relationships between the sediments and water quality need to be investigated using the flux rates of organic matters and nutrients in sediments and their contribution to water quality deterioration and algal growth. SMSs derived in this study were just examined by statistical methods using the correlations between sediment chemistry data and did not consider the interactions between sediments and overlying water. These SMSs can be revised and complemented through various approaches such as flux measurements, water quality impacts, and eutrophication studies in near future.

Derivation of Korean SMSs for metals: adoption of SMSs with foreign SQGs

The Korean SMSs for seven selected metals adopted with SQGs from other countries include As (93 mg/kg), Cd (6.7 mg/kg), Cr (270 mg/kg), Cu (390 mg/kg), Pb (530 mg/kg), Zn (960 mg/kg), and Hg (2 mg/kg) (Table 7). SMSs in this part of the study were defined as “the levels of parameter concentrations that are obviously and severely contaminated, and possibly hazardous to water quality and aquatic ecosystems” (NIER 2011a). Among the foreign SQGs in Table 7, the CSL of Puget Sound marine sediments in Washington State, USA and I.V. from the Netherlands were the most similarly functioning standards to the Korean SMS definition for freshwater sediments which takes into account the obvious and severe contamination levels. In the case of CSL, particle size and TOC concentrations are not normalized in applying the standards for metals. I.V.s for metals in sediments are derived for the standard soils and sediments with 25 % for clay contents and 10 % for LOI, and normalized on the basis of empirical relations of the Dutch background concentrations.
Table 7

Comparison of Korean SMSs for metals with SQGs from other countries (in milligrams per kilogram)

Elements

SMSs

CSL WA, USA (Tetra Tech 1986)

I.V. (VW 2007)

Heavily polluted level, EPA region5 (USEPA 1987)

Soil Pollution-concern Standards, area 2, Korea (NIER 2011a)

Background concentrations, Korea

SQGs in North America

Stream Sediments (NIER 2011a)

Soils (NIER 2011a)

PEL, Canada (CCME 1997)

SEL Ontario, Canada (MacDonald et al. 2000)

ERM NOAA, USA (MacDonald et al. 2000)

PEL-HA283

C-PEC (MacDonald et al. 2000)

(MacDonald et al. 2000)

As

93

93

85

8

50

14.9

6.24

17

33

85

48

33

Cd

6.7

6.7

14

6

10

0.4

0.25

3.5

10

9

3.2

4.98

Cr

270

270

380

75

83.3

37.99

90

110

145

120

111

Cu

390

390

190

50

500

43.9

24.1

197

110

390

100

149

Pb

530

530

580

60

400

50.2

25.68

91.3

250

110

82

128

Hg

2

0.59

10

1

10

0.065

0.04

0.486

2

1.3

1.06

Zn

960

960

2,000

200

600

215

106.11

315

820

270

540

459

(Reproduced from NIER 2011a)

Compared to those two SQGs on the basis of acid digestion methods such as total dissolution that even uses HF for Washington State similar to the methods used in Korea and aqua regia digestion mainly used in the Netherlands that uses sediment characteristics such as particle size distribution (25 % of clay content for Netherlands) and organic matter content (10 % of LOI for Netherlands, and 0.06 ∼ 4.0 % of TOC for Washington), CSL from Washington State, USA was more applicable than I.V. from the Netherlands (Wesselink et al. 2006) to determine contamination level of the Korean freshwater sediments (5.8 % of clay content; 0.93–1.93 % of TOC). Thus, CSLs for six metals (except Hg) from Washington State (WAC 1999) were adopted to be applied for SMSs in Korea.

In the case of Hg, however, CSL from Washington State (0.59 mg/kg) was too conservative to differentiate “obviously and severely” polluted sediments from normal sediments in light of distribution of mercury concentrations in Korean freshwater sediment and was not appropriate for the Korean SMS. This may indicate that oysters, whose AET was selected as the CSL, were more sensitive to Hg concentrations than other six metals in sediments from Washington. As an alternative, the I.V. for Hg (10 mg/kg) developed in the Netherlands was reviewed for Hg SMS in Korea. Considering the background concentrations in stream sediments (0.065 mg/kg) and soils (0.04 mg/kg) in Korea, this value was too high to detect contaminated sediments effectively. Finally, Severe Effect Level of Ontario PSQG from Canada (2 mg/kg for Hg) was concluded as the most proper Hg SMS values for freshwater sediments in Korea.

These SMSs for metals were tested with the datasets from locations directly affected by highly polluted reference areas including industrial areas (e.g. Ulsan, Daegu, Pocheon, and Ansan), metropolitan areas (e.g., Seoul and Busan), and waste mines (Andong Lake basin) (Table 6). Except for As and Cd in Andong Lake basin, there were almost no locations where the parameter concentrations in sediments exceeded the SMSs in public water zones. On the other hand, in several areas influenced by highly polluted references, concentrations for seven metals including As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, Zn, and Hg were found to exceed the SMS values. These results indicate that SMSs for metals derived from this study can differentiate the severely contaminated freshwater sediments in Korea.

Conclusions

In this study, SMSs were derived for organic matters (LOI), nutrients (TN and TP), and 7 metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, Zn, and Hg) of concern in freshwater sediments in Korea (Table 8). The SMSs were then evaluated for their applicability with the datasets from the areas influenced by local point sources, and it was observed that SMSs can successfully determine the obviously and severely contaminated freshwater sediments.
Table 8

SMSs in Korea—organic matter, nutrients, and metals

Parameters

Standard values

Basis

Descriptions

Organic matter and nutrients

Loss on Ignition (%)

13

Upper 5 % concentration values measured in Korea

• Pollutant classification method based on concentration distribution was applied

TP (mg/kg)

1,600

TN (mg/kg)

5,600

Metals

As (mg/kg)

93

CSLs in Washington State, USA

• Sediment characteristics and analysis methods are similar to those of Korea

Cd (mg/kg)

6.7

Cr (mg/kg)

270

Cu (mg/kg)

390

Pb (mg/kg)

530

Zn (mg/kg)

960

Hg (mg/kg)

2

SELs in Ontario, Canada

• High concentration values were selected from foreign SQGs related to biological effects

• CSL for Hg in Washington State is too low to be directly applied in Korea

However, there were limitations to these SMSs as they were determined on the basis of chemical characteristics for the selected parameters, and not yet capable of assessing contamination levels, which are higher than the background concentration levels or no effect concentration. Subsequent SMSs reflecting biological and ecotoxicological effects will be derived to manage sediment quality systematically. Studies on the flux rates of organic matters and nutrients in sediments and their contributions to water quality deterioration and algal growth also need to be conducted to build comprehensive frameworks for assessing the contaminated sediments.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the Ministry of Environment and Post Doctoral Course Program of National Institute of Environmental Research, Republic of Korea. We thank Dr. Kenneth M. Y. Leung for his precious advices on making up outlines, and three anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments to improve the general quality of this manuscript.

References

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • In Ae Huh
    • 1
  • Yong Seok Kim
    • 1
  • Soon Ju Yu
    • 2
  • Stella Wong
    • 3
  • Won Sik Shin
    • 4
  • Hye Ok Park
    • 4
  • Ho Jeong Kim
    • 5
  • Hyun Woo Kim
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Water Environmental Engineering ResearchNational Institute of Environmental ResearchIncheonRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Drinking Water and Sewer ResearchNational Institute of Environmental ResearchIncheonRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.The Swire Institute of Marine ScienceUniversity of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong
  4. 4.Department of Environmental EngineeringKyungpook National UniversityDaeguRepublic of Korea
  5. 5.Division of Water EnvironmentKorea Environmental Institute (KEI)SeoulRepublic of Korea

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