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Statistical Comparison and Correlation of Zinc and Lead in Estuarine Sediments alongthe Western Coast ofMauritius

Author(s): Ramessur RT

Abstract

Abstract

Cr, Zn and Pb were quantified using atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) from urban and rural estuarine sediments collected along the western coast of Mauritius during the period July 2002-January 2003. The mean concentration of Cr (225.4 mg kg(-1)), Zn (107.0 mg kg(-1)) and Pb (27.0 mg kg(-1)) in sediments along the six estuaries can be considered below those from contaminated estuarine sediments. Zn and Pb were significantly higher in urban sediments downstream St. Louis River compared to a rural estuary at Tamarin at 5% significance level. Zn was also significantly lower in Tamarin compared to Petite Riviere Noire estuary. Cr was however not significantly different in sediments from the six estuaries and could be considered of basaltic origin and were correlated to neither lead nor zinc. The concentration of Zn and Pb were greatest in the more urbanised upper and lower reaches of the St. Louis estuary during the period of study and were also significantly positively correlated in the estuarine sediments indicating that the cycling of Pb and Zn were linked indicating a common source for Pb and Zn. The potential sources of Pb and Zn in the urban estuarine sediments were considered to arise from road runoff causing significant quantities to be trapped. At present, compared to contaminant levels found in the UK and elsewhere, Mauritius still looks relatively uncontaminated but there is growing concern about heavy metal contamination in urban estuaries. There is therefore a need for long-term studies in estuarine management to involve integrated strategies in which water-sediment interactions in estuaries need to be considered and international standards for sediment quality developed. Such studies undertaken in the future would further the understanding of the biogeochemical processes of estuarine systems in Mauritius which could then be used in environmental development schemes and effective coastal zone management.

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