Department of Environmental Sciences, Jožef Stefan Institute, Jamova 39, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia; Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School, Jamova 39, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia. Electronic address: [Email]
Among different stressors like drought, hydro-morphological alterations, and pollution from agricultural activities, nutrients, organic compounds and discharges from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), potentially toxic elements (PTE) may also contribute to the overall pollution of the Evrotas River, Greece. Nevertheless, information on pollution of elements in water and sediments in this river is scarcely documented. There is also no information available on the impact of elemental pollution from the aquatic environmental compartments on biota. To fill these gaps, in this study, water, sediment and fish samples were collected from four sampling sites along the Evrotas River under variable flow regimes (July 2015, higher discharge; June 2016, low discharge and September 2016, minimum discharge). Total and dissolved element concentrations in water samples, total and acetic acid extractable contents in sediments, and element concentrations in fish samples were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and significant relationships between samples were established using correlation analysis. The concentrations of PTE (Ni, Cr, Cd, As, Pb, Zn and Cu) in water were generally low, while elevated Ni and Cr contents were found in sediments (up to 150 and 300 mg/kg, respectively), with total Cr concentration in water and sediment being positively correlated. The ecological risk posed by the simultaneous presence of PTE in sediments evaluated by calculating the Probable Effect Concentration Coefficient (PEC-Q), demonstrated that PEC-Qs, which were above the critical value of 0.34, derived mostly from Cr and Ni inputs. Since their mobile sediment fraction was extremely low, Cr and Ni origin is most probably geogenic. The analysis of elements in the target fish species, the Evrotas chub, showed low to moderate PTE concentrations, with Pb being positively correlated with total Pb concentration in water. Moderate Zn concentrations found in fish samples from the Evrotas are possibly derived from pesticides and fertilizers.