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Airport Runoff and Heavy Metal Accumulation in Sediment and Mussels in San Diego Bay, CA

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Commercial air travel is a growing industry around the world. Regular activities at airports, including take-offs and landings, refueling, ground vehicle operations, and aircraft and facility maintenance, can all result in metal pollutants that are washed off airport surfaces by rain and deposited into the surrounding ecosystem. In this study, we examined heavy metal concentration in sediment and mussel tissue (Mytilus galloprovincialis) from sites in the San Diego Bay adjacent to storm drains originating in the San Diego Airport and in control locations. We collected mussels at three sites in the bay, one of which was near an outfall that drained rain water from the airport runway and tarmacs. Mussels were standardized according to size, and the concentration of Cr, Pb, Cu, and Zn in the organisms' soft tissue and the surrounding sediment were analyzed using X-ray fluorescence. ICP-MS was also used to obtain higher resolution of the metal concentrations in the mussel tissue. Overall, there were significant differences in concentration between the airport and non-airport sites; however, among site variability suggest different sources of pollution in different parts of the bay.

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Airport Runoff and Heavy Metal Accumulation in Sediment and Mussels in San Diego Bay, CA

Commercial air travel is a growing industry around the world. Regular activities at airports, including take-offs and landings, refueling, ground vehicle operations, and aircraft and facility maintenance, can all result in metal pollutants that are washed off airport surfaces by rain and deposited into the surrounding ecosystem. In this study, we examined heavy metal concentration in sediment and mussel tissue (Mytilus galloprovincialis) from sites in the San Diego Bay adjacent to storm drains originating in the San Diego Airport and in control locations. We collected mussels at three sites in the bay, one of which was near an outfall that drained rain water from the airport runway and tarmacs. Mussels were standardized according to size, and the concentration of Cr, Pb, Cu, and Zn in the organisms' soft tissue and the surrounding sediment were analyzed using X-ray fluorescence. ICP-MS was also used to obtain higher resolution of the metal concentrations in the mussel tissue. Overall, there were significant differences in concentration between the airport and non-airport sites; however, among site variability suggest different sources of pollution in different parts of the bay.