Venice Lagoon Contamination Falling Says Professor

Wednesday, 19 August, 2009

bruno pavoniThe water quality in and around Venice is becoming cleaner, but there are still plenty of opportunities for improvement, according to Professor Bruno Pavoni from the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Venice.

Professor Pavoni delivered his analysis of water quality in the Venice Lagoon in Adelaide in mid-August, as part of ICE WaRM’s Visits and Exchanges Programme, and outlined the research he’s carried out since 1987.In that time, Professor Pavoni’s team has recorded significant decreases in polychlorinated biphenyls, a strong reduction in chlorinated pesticides in surface sediments but hardly any fall in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the Lagoon, which covers 550 sq km and has an average water depth of one metre.

Since the course of a series of rivers was first diverted in 1540 to create the foundations of contemporary Venice, the area has become an industrial centre, as well as a focus for tourism and the arts.

And Professor Pavoni believes the major pollution issues facing the city and its waterways remain industrial emissions and shipping.

Mussels and clams collected in some of the 25 sampling stations established by the research team show higher than permitted Tolerable Average Residue Level concentrations. Other marine life has signs of gender changes because of chemical contamination.

Professor Pavoni says even though organotins (OTS) are now prohibited by law, some stocks of OTS-based marine paints have not been destroyed.