The legacy of industrial pollution in estuarine sediments: spatial and temporal variability implications for ecosystem stress

Kiri Rodgers, Iain McLellan, Tatyana Peshkur, Roderick Williams, Rebecca Tonner, Charles W. Knapp, Fiona L. Henriquez, Andrew S. Hursthouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
141 Downloads (Pure)


The direct impacts of anthropogenic pollution are widely known public and environmental health concerns, and details on the indirect impact of these are starting to emerge, for example affecting the environmental microbiome. Anthropogenic activities throughout history, with associated pollution burdens are notable contributors. Focusing on the historically heavily industrialised River Clyde, Scotland, we investigate spatial and temporal contributions to stressful/hostile environments using a geochemical framework e.g. pH, EC, Total organic carbon and potentially toxic elements; As, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn and enrichment indicators. With regular breaches of the sediment quality standards in the estuarine system. Multivariate statistical analysis (principle component analysis) identifies 2 dominant components, PC1: As, Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn as well as PC2: Ni, Co and total organic carbon. Our assessment confirms hot spots in the Clyde Estuary indicative of localised inputs. In addition there are sites with high variability indicative of excessive mixing. We demonstrate that industrialised areas are dynamic environmental sites dependant on historical anthropogenic activity with short scale variation. This work supports the development of ‘contamination’ mapping to enable an assessment of the impact of historical anthropogenic pollution, identifying specific ‘stressors’ that can impact the microbiome, neglected in estuarine recovery dynamics and potentially supporting the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1057-1068
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Issue number4
Early online date22 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


  • Environmental pollution
  • Estuaries
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Potentially toxic elements (PTEs)
  • ICP
  • ICP-MS
  • ICP-AES: Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometry


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