Sea-level-rise-induced flooding drives arsenic release from coastal sediments

Fatemeh Izaditame, Matthew G. Siebecker, Donald L. Sparks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sea-level rise (SLR) has a vital influence on coastal hydrogeological systems, biogeochemical processes, and the fate of coastal contaminants. However, the effects of SLR-induced perturbations on the mobilization of coastal pollutants are not fully understood. In this study, the impact of SLR-induced flooding on the concentration and speciation of arsenic and selected hazardous chemicals is investigated using exceedingly contaminated sediments (5–6% As) collected from an urban coastal site in Wilmington, DE, USA. The release of contaminants from sediments was monitored before, during, and after flooding with different intensities (bottom shear stresses) through laboratory-based erosion chamber experiments. Significantly increased release of As (up to 150%) and NO3 (up to 50%) from sediments at shear stress levels typically measured in estuaries were found. The release of toxic chemicals from contaminated coastal sediments is thus not restricted to extreme flooding events but can occur throughout the year. The results also suggest that the dissolved concentrations of pollutants continue to be considerably high even after the flooding. SLR-induced flooding can hence increase the release of contaminants not only during erosion events but over longer timescales. The release mechanism proposed here contributes to improving the risk assessment of coastal water pollution as climate change and SLR continue to occur.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127161
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Volume423
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 5 2022

Keywords

  • Arsenic release
  • Climate change
  • Flooding
  • Sea-level rise
  • Water pollution

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