Bioaccumulation of metals in the Kuils River, Western Cape
World wide urban rivers are the most utilised and degraded. A variety of everyday sources of metal pollution exist that is entrenched in the modern way of life. Lately there has been a tremendous growth in the establishment and development of human settlements, both formal and informal in the Cape Town area. The surroundings of the Kuils River are not excluded from this. There are various communities in close proximity to the Kuils River. Due to this, more industries are also being established. This has caused an increased production of potential environmental pollutants, including metals. The aim of the study was firstly, to identify potential sources of metal pollution along the entire length of the Kuils River, in order to identify sampling sites. Secondly, to identify the metals contaminating the water and sediment of the Kuils River. Thirdly, to determine the bioaccumulation of metals in freshwater snails (Physa ecuta). Four sampling sites were identified along the Kuils River. Freshwater snails (P. acuta), sediment and water were collected every 2 months for a period of one year. The following metals were investigated: Aluminium (AI), Cadmium (Cd) Cobalt (Co), Chromium (Cr), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Lead (Pb), Manganese (Mn), Nickel (Ni.) and Zinc (Zn). Samples were digested with 55% nitric acid. The Inductively Coupled Plasma - Atomic Emission Spectrometer (ICP-AES) were used for metal analyses. The results were statistically analysed by means of ANOVA on ranks using the Sigmastat statistical package. Results revealed that most metals found in water, sediment and snails had significantly higher concentrations at site 1. This is possibly due to input from the surrounding urban area and nearly agricultural activities. Water concentrations of AI, Cu, Mn and Zn were higher than the DWAF (1996) guidelines. Sediment was mostly contaminated with AI, Fe, Pb and Zn, while the snails contained significant levels of Cu, Fe, Mn and Zn. Further investigations involving toxicity testing should be conducted to determine the toxicity of these metals to (Physa acuta).