Airport Runoff and Heavy Metal Accumulation in Sediment, Mussels and Oysters in San Diego Bay, CA

Samantha Douglass, Steven Searcy and Eric Madison Cathcart, University of San Diego, Environmental and Ocean Sciences, San Diego, CA, United States
This study examined heavy metal concentration in sediment and bivalve tissue from sites in the San Diego Bay adjacent to storm drains originating from the San Diego Airport and in control locations. Commercial air travel is a growing industry around the world. Regular activities at airports, including take-offs and landings, refueling, ground vehicle operations, and aircraft and facility maintenance, can all result in pollutants that are washed off airport surfaces by rain and deposited into the surrounding ecosystem. In this study, we collected oysters and mussels at four sites in the bay adjacent to storm drains, two of which drained rain water from the airport runway and tarmacs. Oysters and mussels were standardized according to size, and the concentration of Cu, Zn, Pb, and Cd in the organisms’ soft tissue and from the surrounding sediment were analyzed using ICP-MS and X-ray fluorescence respectively. Overall, there were differences in heavy metal concentration between airport and non-airport sites; however, among site variability suggest different sources of pollution in different parts of the bay.