Processes which control the cycling of toxicants in Galveston Bay
Santschi, Peter H., Sarah D. Oktay-Marshall, Liang-Saw Wen, and Ozden Corapcioglu
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Aquatic habitats are threatened by urban and industrial inputs of toxicants, such as heavy metals. One of the most toxic heavy metals is Pb, which shows neurotoxic effect to a large number of organisms even at very low concentrations (e.g., Thomas and Juedes, 1985 and Bengtsson et al., 1985). Supported by the Seagrant program, we are currently investigating the processes which control the cycling of the toxicant lead in Galveston Bay's waters. By focusing our current research on a single critical toxic contaminant of estuarine habitats, lead, we will provide the first reliable assessment of its inputs, its sources and rates of exchange between environmental compartments, as well as the processes controlling its fate, in Galveston Bay. Furthermore, quantitative information on removal rates and residence times of Pb and other heavy metals in the bay water will be obtained through the use of its natural radioactive isotope, 210 Pb. With support by the Texas Chemical Council, and the Texas Institute of Oceanography, we have previously investigated some of the processes which control the partitioning of the trace metals Pb, Cu, Zn, and Ag between the solution and the particulate phases in six Texas estuaries, including Galveston Bay (Benoit and Santschi, 1991; Benoit et al., 1992 and Morse et al., 1992).