Water Pollution by Surfactants: Fluctuations Due to Tourism Exploitation in a Lagoon Ecosystem

DOI: 10.4236/jep.2012.39116   PDF   HTML     5,514 Downloads   7,774 Views   Citations


This paper describes recent levels of surfactants measured in a coastal lagoon ecosystem highly stressed by human activites: the Orbetello lagoon (Southern Tuscany, Italy, Ramsar Site IT008). Significance of difference among concentrations measured before and after summertime are explored in order to evaluate effects related to tourism exploitation. Among surfactants, methylene blue active anionic substances (MBAS) are selected as tracers for untreated discharges originated by domestic and urban activities. Water samplings were performed in 2011 following a randomly replicated nested logic model (n = 144). MBAS mean level of 0.070 mg.L–1 (<0.001 - 0.259 mg.L–1) and 0.530 mg.L–1 (–1) are respectively recorded in June and October evidencing a significant increase after the touristic season. Possible MBAS concentration phenomena could be induced by different evaportaton rates among sampling stations and between winter and summer seasons and were evaluated, in this study, using water salinity as possible factor affecting samples segregations. Results evidence that differences of MBAS levels related to evaporation rates are trascurabile if compared to the variability induced by the presence of not-collected wastewater hot-spot pollution sources located closed around the urban settlement and along sandbars. Measured levels of surfactants could act negatively on living organisms both animals and plants contributing to affect Orbetello lagoon biodiversity. In this ecosystem, after the complete reorganization of urban wastewater treatment plants occured in 2008, further management actions should be focalized on reducing untreated sources of MBAS.

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M. Renzi, A. Giovani and S. Focardi, "Water Pollution by Surfactants: Fluctuations Due to Tourism Exploitation in a Lagoon Ecosystem," Journal of Environmental Protection, Vol. 3 No. 9, 2012, pp. 1004-1009. doi: 10.4236/jep.2012.39116.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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