Mercury in the aquatic ecosystem

Research activity

Current research on mercury is being performed further to a former study aimed to check the abundance of eventual toxic substances within Marano and Grado lagoon system and to its eventual reclamation (“Piano di Studi finalizzato all’accertamento della presenza di eventuali sostanze tossiche persistenti nel bacino lagunare di Marano e Grado ed al suo risanamento”) financed by the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region (Agreement n° 4897 dated December 19th 1988). The results achieved through that study show the certain abundance of Hg within marine and lagoon sediments and within all the different parts of the trophic chain (fito and zoobenthonic organisms, molluscs, fish and birds) till the human beings.

In the years 1995-98, within the framework of a Ph.D. research in Environmental Sciences (Marine Sciences ), a pioneer study on the “biogeochemical cycles of mercury in the sediments of Trieste Gulf” was performed. The research intended to assess both the role of marine sediments as secondary source of Hg within the ecosystem and the environmental factors which enhance transformations and remobilization of this metal.

More recently, within the framework of the two-years research project “financially supported in 2002 by the ex-Regional Directorship of Education and Culture (now Central Directorship of Labour, Training, University and Research) of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, there were thoroughly analyzed some aspects linked to the Hg transport associated to suspended particulate matter during fluvial floods, and to biogeochemical processes at the water-sediment interface in the open lagoon and within the fishfarms.

The research activity on Hg has been carried out also through a profitable cooperation relationship with researchers of national and international entities and organisms: ARPA FVG (Sergio Predonzani and Alessandro Acquavita), ex Laboratory of Marine Biology now Biological Oceanography Department of OGS Trieste (Dr. Cinzia De Vittor and Michele Giani), ISPRA (ex ICRAM) Chioggia (Dr. Daniela Berto), “Josef Stefan” Institute of Lubljana, Slovenia (Dr. Milena Horvat), Marine Biology Station of Piran, Slovenia (Prof. Jadran Faganeli), Department of Civil Engineering at Lubjana University, Slovenia (Dr. Dusan Zagar), the Department of Environmental Geochemistry of Heidelberg University, Germany (Dr. Harald Biester), Lowell University of Massachussets, USA (Prof. Mark Hines).