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A multidisciplinary weight of evidence approach for environmental risk assessment at the Costa Concordia wreck: Integrative indices from Mussel Watch

October 16, 2013

A complex framework of chemical, biological and oceanographic activities was immediately activated after the Costa Concordia shipwreck, to assess possible contamination events and the environmental impact during both emergency and wreck removal operations. In the present paper, we describe the results obtained with caged mussels, Mytilus galloprovincialis, chosen as bioindicator organisms to detect variations of bioavailability and the early onset of molecular and cellular effects (biomarkers). Seven translocation experiments were carried out during the first year from the incident, with organisms deployed at 2 depths in 3 different sites. After 4-6 weeks, tissue concentrations were measured for the main classes of potentially released chemicals (trace metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile and aliphatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, halogenated pesticides, organotin compounds, brominated flame retardants, anionic surfactants); a wide battery of biomarkers covered responses indicative of exposure, detoxification, oxidative stress, cell damage and genotoxic effects. Results excluded serious contamination events or a consistent increase of environmental pollution although some episodic spills with reversible effects were detected. Data were elaborated within a quantitative weight of evidence (WOE) model which provided synthetic hazard indices for each typology of data, before their overall integration in an environmental risk index, which generally ranged from slight to moderate. The proposed WOE model was confirmed a useful tool to summarize large datasets of complex data in integrative indices, and to simplify the interpretation for stakeholders and decision makers, thus supporting a more comprehensive process of “site-oriented” management decisions.

Regoli F, Pellegrini D, Cicero A M, Nigro M, Benedetti M, Gorbi S, Fattorini D, D’Errico G, Di Carlo M, et al., in press. A multidisciplinary weight of evidence approach for environmental risk assessment at the Costa Concordia wreck: Integrative indices from Mussel Watch, Marine Environmental Research, 2013, doi:10.1016/j.marenvres.2013.09.016. Article.

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