The Potential of Indian River Lagoon Muck to act as a Reservoir for Emerging Organic Contaminants
Belson, Gregory David
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Pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and personal care products are frequently found in sediments and waterways around the world. These chemicals, collectively known as Emerging Organic Contaminants (EOCs) can harm the environments in which they are deposited by killing or stressing the local flora and fauna. These EOCs also can be released back into the water column when these substrates are disturbed. Such sediments and their associated EOCs are particularly problematic in urbanized areas. However, the particular composition of urbanization-associated sediments as well as their potential to harbor EOCs needs to be evaluated in the context of their environment, to ensure proper mitigation efforts. In this study, water and sediment samples were taken from the Sykes Creek Area of Florida’s Indian River Lagoon (IRL), which has a highly restricted waterflow. This restricted flow means that pollutants entering the IRL, especially in the north where there are fewer inlets, remain in the system for extended periods. The samples taken for this study were run through liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to identify and quantify eight common EOCs: Diazepam, Oxybenzone, Sulisobenzone, Acetaminophen, Atrazine, Chloramphenicol, Ibuprofen, and Sucralose. Information on the concentration and location of these EOCs was then used, in combination with additional information about pollutants at each site provided by the Ocean Resource and Conservation Association (ORCA), to attempt to create a predictive model for each EOC using RStudio. The EOC data collected indicated that muck does not actually act as a significant reservoir for EOCs in the IRL. The vast majority of EOCs quantified in this study were found in the water column. The modeling in RStudio showed only water depth and Ammonia measured from the water of the sample sites were able to predict the presence of any EOC, while Ammonia, Sulfur, and Mercury were the only parameters measured from the muck of the sample sites capable of predicting the presence of any EOC.