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Environ Pollut April 1, 2019; 247 980-988.

Geochemical and ecological changes within Moira Lake (Ontario, Canada): A legacy of industrial contamination and remediation.

Tenkouano GT , Cumming BF , Jamieson HE .

A sediment core was obtained from Moira Lake to study the legacy of contamination and remediation at the Deloro industrial site which includes 95-years of operations involving gold mining, mineral processing, and arsenic-based pesticide production resulting in high levels of arsenic, cobalt, and nickel. A timeline for the sediment core was established by 210Pb dating and used to evaluate the geochemical record and the impact on primary production and subfossil cladocerans. In the early 1800s, there was an initial increase in the arsenic, cobalt and nickel concentrations due to industrial development. By the 1850s, the rate of enrichment increased due to the conglomeration of small-scale operations. In the 1960s, the concentrations of those metal(loid)s decreased following the cessation of the industrial activity at Deloro and the initiation of a clean-up effort. Primary production, inferred by chlorophyll-a concentrations, initially decreased as the metal(loid)s concentrations increased. This was followed by a recovery of the chlorophyll-a concentrations and further increases in production to higher levels than recorded prior to the Deloro years. Secondary production, inferred by cladoceran assemblage structure, was initially dominated by bosminids. The assemblage then changed to one dominated by chydorids and daphnids with the change occurring contemporaneous with the change in chlorophyll-a. However, the changes in primary and secondary production occurred during the period of accelerated metal(loid) enrichment, suggesting limited impact of contamination on primary and secondary producers. Loss on ignition results revealed that during the period of accelerated arsenic enrichment, the carbonate content of the sediments increased while the percent organic content decreased. This work contributes to ongoing research to establish the environmental legacy of historical industrial activities within complex ecosystems. Furthermore, the combination of geochemical (i.e. 210Pb, ICP-OES, XANES) and ecological analysis provides a more complete picture of the complex interactions that have occurred in Moira Lake.

PubMed ID: 30823353
Article link: Environ Pollut