Baseline evaluation of sediment contamination in the shallow coastal areas of Saudi Arabian Red Sea

Pedro Javier Ruiz Compean, Joanne Ellis, Joao Curdia, Richard Payumo, Ute Langner, Burton Jones, Susana Carvalho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Despite the growing recognition of the importance of water and sediment quality there is still limited information on contamination levels in many regions globally including the Red Sea. This study provides a comprehensive assessment of three classes of contaminants (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons - PAH; metals; plastics) in coastal sediments along the Saudi Arabian Red Sea mainly collected using grabs. Background concentrations are provided for metals in the region. Concentrations of metals and PAH were generally low in comparison to international guidelines. A clear relationship between the concentration of metals and anthropogenic sources was not always apparent and dust and vegetation may be relevant players in the region. Microplastic items (mainly polyethylene) were abundant (reaching up to 1gm−2 and 160piecesm−2) and in general associated with areas of high human activity. This study provides critical information for future monitoring and the development of national policies within the Red Sea region.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-218
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 12 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank the crew of the RV Thuwal and Riaan van der Merwe, Holger Anlauf, and Saskia Kürten who helped with sample collection and processing. Andreia Farinha analyzed the plastic samples through attenuated total reflectance - Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR). This study has resulted from a collaboration between KAUST and Saudi Aramco within the framework of the Saudi Aramco-KAUST Center for Marine Environmental Observations.


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