Integrated environmental assessment of Volturno River in South Italy.

Research paper by Marina M Isidori, Margherita M Lavorgna, Angela A Nardelli, Alfredo A Parrella

Indexed on: 03 Jun '04Published on: 03 Jun '04Published in: Science of the Total Environment


The application of a battery of toxicity and genotoxicity tests on pore water in parallel and in combination with physico-chemical analyses and benthic macroinvertebrate community investigations is discussed as a tool to assess the environmental quality of the Volturno River in South Italy. Toxicity testing was performed on the rotifer Brachionus calyciflorus and the crustacean Daphnia magna. Genotoxicity was determined by the SOS chromotest and Mutatox system. The biotic index used for macroinvertebrates was the extended biotic index that was developed to verify if the observed benthic community accords with the expected one for an identical environment without anthropic contaminations. The physico-chemical characterization of the surface waters showed a declining trend from up-river to down-river for dissolved oxygen and conductivity. Also, chemical variables showed a worsening along the river axis showing an increase in ammonium, phosphates, sulfates, and heavy metals. The assessment of macro-invertebrates reflected the general ecological deterioration occurring to chemical as well as toxic and genotoxic pollution. Furthermore, benthic community composition and the sediment contamination of toxic and genotoxic substances were shown to be correlated. We concluded that investigations on pore water, integrated with benthic macroinvertebrate communities, could provide the basis for a robust monitoring of rivers.