Effects of increased urban and agricultural land use on the anthropogenic loading to southwest Florida estuaries

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Piero Gardinali

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Yong Cai

Third Advisor's Name

Rudolf Jaffe

Fourth Advisor's Name

Ramon Lopez de la Vega

Date of Defense



South Florida has been subject to considerable changes during the last 100 years. This study provides a detailed survey of the presence, concentration levels, and spatial distribution of organic and inorganic contaminants in sediment samples collected within the coastal environments of southwest Florida. It evaluates the potential contributions and effects of the urban and agricultural development to the pollution loading of the estuarine sediments. And it also provides information regarding chronology of contamination at impacted sites.

Copper was found to be the most critical contaminant among the trace metals. 12% of the samples exceeded the Threshold Effects Level (TEL). None of organic contaminants measured exceeded the Probable Effects Level (PEL) criteria. Total PAHs concentrations exceeded the TEL criteria in 6% of the samples. The evaluation for the chronology of contamination showed a significant increase with time of every contaminant analyzed. Fluorescence spectroscopy proves to be a good method for fast screening PAHs.

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