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Sediment Quality Assessment and Management: Insight and Progress Edited by M. Munawar© 2003 Ecovision World Monograph Series Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management Society Heavy metals in the burrowing bivalve (Solen strictus) from tidal flats along the western coast of South Korea G.-S. Hwang1, H.-S. Shin2, K. Kim1*, S.-K. Yeo1, J.-S. Kim1 1Department of Environmental Engineering, Kunsan National University, Kunsan, Jeonbuk, 573-701, Korea. * 2Division of Analysis and Measurement, Korea Basic Science Institute, P.O. Box 41, Taejeon, Korea. Keywords: mussels, indicators, sediment Introduction Heavy metal contamination of natural ecosystems has been of long-standing concern because even small quantities can cause health problems to humans and other living organisms. A variety of organisms have been used as bioindicators for various types of pollutions in aquatic environments: fish (Kiparissis et al., 1996), algae (Tadros et al., 1994), plankton and crab (Ayas and Kolankaya, 1996), fish parasite (Sures et al., 1997), mussel (Orren et al., 1980;Waldichuk, 1985; Phillips and Segar, 1986; Claisse, 1989; Moukrim et al., 2000), etc. Among these many organisms, bivalves like Mytilus edulis and Scrobicularia plana have been regarded as suitable biological indicators for coastal contamination by heavy metals because they have relatively long life spans, are widely found and sessile (Bryan and Uysal, 1978; Talvot, 1985). M. edulis is a bivalve commonly observed in coasts around the world. It lives attaching its body to solid objects in inter-tidal environments, thus is not an appropriate indicator species for heavy metal contamination of coastal sediments. S. plana is a burrowing bivalve living at the depth of 20 - 30 cm in the coastal sediments, however, is not observed in the tidal flats of the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, new surveillance bivalves are required to monitor contamination levels of the tidal flats in Korea. Solen strictus is a burrowing bivalve abundant in the tidal flats along the western and southern coast of the Korean Peninsula. The S. strictus bivalves have 114 convenient sizes for analysis (about 10 cm in adult shell length) and relatively long life times (about 6 years) indicating their potential as a surveillance organism for heavy metal contamination. Its life style, making a 20 - 30 cm deep burrow and dwelling in it, also provides its distinct attribute as a bioindicator for the coastal sediments. The heavy metal levels in this mussel species are an important concern for public health in Korea since it is being used as one of the tasteful food sources. The present study was conducted to describe the heavy metal levels and bioavailabilities to S. strictus and to investigate whether the mussel can be used as an indicator organism for heavy metal contamination in the inter-tidal ecosystem of the western coast of Korea. The western coastal area of the Korean Peninsula has been recently suffering from various pollution problems associated with several land expansion projects and developments of the coastal industrial zones (Choi et al., 1999; Park et al., 2001). There are heavy loadings of industrial wastes and municipal sewages to the coast through the rivers and streams and it is almost certain that the degree of contamination in this area will become more serious in near future. Material and methods Sampling sites and methods S. strictus of different sizes were randomly collected during autumn, 1999 from six sampling sites along the middle of the western coastal area of South Korea (Fig. 1). About 150 mussels (1-3 years in age, 5-12 cm in shell length) were collected from each site when tides were low. The mussel samples were stored at –20 °C untill analyses in the laboratory. Four sediment samples were collected from some of the sampling sites (S1, S4, S5, and S6). Aliquots of sediment were taken at the depth where the mussels were obtained, and stored in an acid-washed plastic bag. Analysis of heavy metals After measurement of shell length, the whole soft parts of each mussel were removed, washed with deionized water several times, and weighed before and after drying to a constant weight (at 105 °C). Each dried sample was placed in a quartz crucible and treated by acid digestion (Miramand and Bentley, 1992). All glassware and crucibles were cleaned with 0.1 N HCl solution, rinsed with deionized water, then dried before use. Acid digestion was performed with nitric acid and subsequent nitroperchloric acid mixture (3:1 by vol.). Following evaporation on a sandbath, the residue was dissolved into 0.3N nitric acid for analysis. Heavy metals 115 (Pb...


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