Research / Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Research Highlights /

Research Highlights

Prof. Jong Seong Khim

Integrated assessment of the natural purification capacity of tidal flat for persistent toxic substances and heavy metals in contaminated sediments

Natural purification of pollutants is highly recognized as regulating ecosystem services; however, the purification capacity of tidal flats remains largely unknown and/or unquantified. A 60-day mesocosm transplant experiment was conducted in situ to assess the purification capacity of natural tidal flats. We adopted the advanced sediment quality triad approach, monitoring 10 endpoints, including chemical reduction, toxicity changes, and community recoveries. The results indicated that contaminated sediments rapidly recovered over time, particularly > 50% within a day, then slowly recovered up to ∼ 70% in a given period (60 days). A significant early reduction of parent pollutants was evidenced across all treatments, primarily due to active bacterial decomposition. Notably, the presence of benthic fauna and vegetated halophytes in the treatments significantly enhanced the purification of pollutants in both efficacy and efficiency. A forecast linear modeling further suggested additive effects of biota on the natural purification of tidal flats, reducing a full recovery time from 500 to 300 days. Overall, the triad approach with machine learning practices successfully demonstrated quantitative insight into the integrated assessment of natural purification.

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