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Uptake and Losses of Heavy Metals in Sewage Sludge by a New England Salt Marsh

As part of an investigation on the potential of salt marshes to act as natural waste treatment systems, we are studying the cycling of heavy metals in Great Sippewissett Marsh, Massachusetts. For the last 7 yr, varying doses of fertilizer containing sewage sludge have been added to experimental plots. Changes in metal levels in the sediment, grasses, and animals have been monitored. Marsh sediments retained 20-35% Cd, 20-50% Cr, 60-100% Cu, 55-100% Pb, 80100% Fe, 55-60% Mn and 20-45% of the Zn added in the fertilizer. When compared with low marsh, high marsh areas retained a significantly greater fraction of all the added metals except Mn. In the treated plots the dominant grasses, Spartina alterniflora and Spartina patens, contained elevated levels of Cd, Cr, Cu and Zn. Recent Spartina litter contained elevated levels of Fe, Cu, Cr and Pb and reduced levels of Cd. The mussel Modiolus demissus exhibited significantly elevated levels of Cd, Cr and Cu and reduced levels of Pb compared to control animals. The fiddler crab Uca pugnax showed significantly higher levels of Cd, Cu and Mn.

Publisher - Botanical Society of America

Subjects - Sediment, Marsh; Chemical, Cadmium; Chemical, Chromium; Chemical, Copper; Chemical, Lead; Chemical, Iron; Chemical, Manganese; Chemical, Zinc; Fertilizer


Citation: Giblin AE, Bourg A, Valiela I, Teal JM. 1980. Uptake and Losses of Heavy Metals in Sewage Sludge by a New England Salt Marsh. Amer. J. Bot.; 67(7):1059-1068 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2442198