Enrichment of Heavy Metals and Organic Compounds in the Surface Microlayer of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  14 Apr 1972:
Vol. 176, Issue 4031, pp. 161-163
DOI: 10.1126/science.176.4031.161


Concentrations of lead, iron, nickel, copper, fatty acids, hydrocarbons, and chlorinated hydrocarbons are enriched from 1.5 to 50 times in the top 100 to 150 micrometers of Narragansett Bay water relative to the bulk water 20 centimeters below the surface. Trace metal enrichment was observed in the particulate and organic fractions but not in the inorganic fraction. If these substances are concentrated in films only a few molecular layers thick on the water surface, the actual enrichment factor in the films may be well over 104, resulting in extremely high localized pollutant concentrations in the surface microlayer.