Long-term persistence of sedimentary copper contamination in Lake Orta: potential environmental risks 20 years after liming

Submitted: 23 April 2015
Accepted: 27 October 2015
Published: 13 April 2016
Abstract Views: 2258
PDF: 736
Supplementary: 352
HTML: 1527
Publisher's note
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


Lake Orta, northern Italy, has suffered from severe copper pollution and human-induced acidification between the 1920s and the 1990s because of discharges from a rayon factory and electroplating industries located in its water basin. Following liming operations in the late 1990s, the chemical quality of the water column has been restored and signs of, still ongoing, biological recovery observed. Examination of two sediment cores collected close to the main historical Cu discharge and in the central part of the Lake shows that Cu concentrations in the uppermost layers of bottom sediments remain 10 to 40-fold higher than background levels. Past studies demonstrated the toxic potential of Lake Orta sediments to a variety of organisms at Cu concentrations comparable to present ones. Comparison with published results suggests that current level of Cu contamination may still pose a risk to sediment-ingesting organisms and slow down further ecological recovery of Lake Orta. Particular attention should be given to understand the effects of dietary ingestion of Cu from sediments which, unlike in previous ecotoxicological studies, may now represent the main route of Cu exposure for sediment-ingesting benthic organisms.



PlumX Metrics


Download data is not yet available.


Davide A.L. Vignati, CNRS, Université de Lorraine

LIEC - Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire des Environnements Continentaux

Senior Researcher

Roberta Bettinetti, University of Insubria

Department of Theoretical and Applied Sciences


How to Cite

Vignati, Davide A.L., Roberta Bettinetti, and Aldo Marchetto. 2016. “Long-Term Persistence of Sedimentary Copper Contamination in Lake Orta: Potential Environmental Risks 20 Years After Liming”. Journal of Limnology 75 (s2). https://doi.org/10.4081/jlimnol.2016.1232.

List of Cited By :

Crossref logo