Using public participation to sample trace metals in lake surface sediments: the OPAL Metals Survey

Turner, S.D.; Rose, N.L.; Goldsmith, B.; Bearcock, J.M.; Scheib, C.; Yang, H.. 2017 Using public participation to sample trace metals in lake surface sediments: the OPAL Metals Survey. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 189 (5), 241.

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Members of the public in England were invited in 2010 to take part in a national metals survey, by collecting samples of littoral sediment from a standing water body for geochemical analysis. To our knowledge, this is the first national sediment metals survey using public participation and reveals a snapshot of the extent of metals contamination in ponds and lakes across England. Hg, Ni, Cu, Zn and Pb concentrations exceeding sediment quality guidelines for the health of aquatic biota are ubiquitous in ponds and lakes, not just in areas with a legacy of industrial activity. To validate the public sampling approach, a calibration exercise was conducted at ten water bodies selected to represent a range of lakes found across England. Sediment concentrations of Hg, Ni, Cu, Zn and Pb were measured in samples of soil, stream and littoral and deep water sediment to assess inputs. Significant differences between littoral sediment metal concentrations occur due to local variability, but also organic content, especially in upland, peat soil catchments. Variability of metal concentrations between littoral samples is shown to be low in small (<20 ha) lowland lakes. Larger and upland lakes with more complex inputs and variation in organic content of littoral samples have a greater variability. Collection of littoral sediments in small lakes and ponds, with or without voluntary participation, can provide a reliable sampling technique for the preliminary assessment of metal contamination in standing waters. However, the heterogeneity of geology, soils and history/extent of metal contamination in the English landscape, combined with the random nature of sample collection, shows that systematic sampling for evaluating the full extent of metal contamination in lakes is still required.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0167-6369
Date made live: 08 Aug 2017 14:40 +0 (UTC)

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