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Dispersal of cellulose fibers and metals from contaminated sediments of industrial origin in an estuary
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development. Geological Survey of Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6444-3968
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6257-3088
Division of Physical Planning and Marine Environment, Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU).
2020 (English)In: Environmental Pollution, ISSN 0269-7491, E-ISSN 1873-6424, Vol. 266, no 3, article id 115182Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The boreal forest’s pulp and paper industry plays a major role in economic prosperity but, historically, caused an environmental burden. Remnants of discharges of contaminated suspended solids (fiberbanks) are continuously being discovered on the beds of shallow seas, rivers and lakes in the northern hemisphere. We investigated the dispersion of Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn from deeper to surficial layers in fiberbanks in a Swedish estuary and the larger-scale transport of the same metals to distal areas of sediment accumulation. We also tested the C:N ratio as a common denominator for these anthropogenic, cellulose-rich deposits. Sampling and analyses of three fiberbanks located in the inner part of the estuary and from sediment accumulation sites outside and along the estuary reveals that metal concentrations are regressing to background levels towards the surface at the accumulation sites. The fiberbanks show a higher degree of contamination and C:N ratios demonstrate inclusion of cellulose fibers. C:N ratios also indicate that there is currently no significant transport of fiberbank material into the distal areas. A ∼10 cm natural cap of recently settled fine-grained sediment covering one of the fiberbanks seems to prevent metals dispersing into overlying water whereas the other two fiberbanks show signs of metal enrichment and potential mercury methylation in surficial layers. Although the estuarine system seems to recover from the impact of industrial waste, there is no evidence that the fiberbanks will be remediated naturally but instead will continue to threaten the aquatic environment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020. Vol. 266, no 3, article id 115182
Keywords [en]
Fiberbank, Fiber-impacted sediments, Metals, C:N ratios, Anthropogenic sediments
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-419474DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115182ISI: 000571853900011PubMedID: 32673976OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-419474DiVA, id: diva2:1473532
Funder
The Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU), 362-1493/2013Available from: 2020-10-06 Created: 2020-10-06 Last updated: 2020-12-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Contaminated organic sediments of anthropogenic origin: impact on coastal environments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Contaminated organic sediments of anthropogenic origin: impact on coastal environments
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Baltic Sea is negatively affected by legacy pollutants such as metals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that are known to have adverse effects on living organisms, including, humans and were banned decades ago. This thesis addresses the dispersal of these pollutants from heavily contaminated, cellulose-rich sediments of industrial origin in the Ångermanälven river estuary in northern Sweden. Relatively thick deposits, known as fiberbanks, in the studied area derive from historical wastewater emissions from the pulp and paper industry (P&PI) that began in the 19th century. These fiberbanks formed on shallow seabeds, where they currently remain. In addition, extensive areas of the deeper seabed are covered by fiber-rich sediments. The fiberbanks contain higher levels of pollutants than the fiber-rich sediments and the sediments less affected by P&PI emissions, and the fiberbank concentrations may be of ecotoxicological concern. Metals and POPs were found to be strongly partitioned to organic material and partitioning coefficients were higher in fiberbanks that contain elevated levels of organic matter. Metals and POPs were detectable in sampled pore water, even if low sediment-water fluxes of metals were expected. Metal contaminant concentrations in sampled bottom water were measured before and after resuspension of underlying sediments, which showed that concentrations of particle bound metals dominated over dissolved forms. One out of three studied fiberbank sites was covered with a natural capping layer that probably shields the water column from metals in the deposit underneath. Studies of geological archives in the form of sediment cores show the rise and fall of an anthropogenic industrial era and the recovery of an aquatic system, but the established chemostratigraphy fails to reveal the current hotspots (fiberbanks) that will stay for decades to come. The potential impacts of climate change and isostatic land uplift are factors that complicate the long-term risk assessment of fiberbanks. These knowledge gaps combined with the lack of a common risk assessment strategy for contaminated sediments hinder the achievement of national quality objectives (NQOs) and fulfillment of Agenda 2030 goals. Fiberbanks resulted from an accelerating global demand for paper products and hence, the issue of these artificial seabed forms is an example of how the geological epoch of humankind, the Anthropocene, can be viewed in a cross-scalar perspective and be important in the management of a sustainable future in the Baltic Sea region.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2021. p. 76
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1997
Keywords
Fiberbank, fiber-rich sediment, metals, persistent organic pollutants, pore water, bottom water, dispersal, sorption, pulp and paper, chemostratigraphy, Anthropocene
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources and Sustainable Development
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-427739 (URN)978-91-513-1094-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2021-02-12, Hambergssalen, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 214-2014-63The Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU), 362-1493/2013The Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU), 411-1578/2013
Available from: 2021-01-22 Created: 2020-12-10 Last updated: 2021-03-04

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