The study focused on selected trace elements (As, Cd, Cr, Hg, Ni, Pb) monitored in surface waters of the Venice Lagoon catchment basin (North East Italy) over the period 2000-2015. The monitoring was undertaken to verify the achievement of the quality objectives set by the European and national legislations. The available results have been analyzed to evaluate the chemical status of water bodies. The limit of quantification (LOQ) of the applied analytic techniques appears critical for the adequate water monitoring; for some parameters, the percentage of not visible values due to non-satisfactory LOQ was higher in the beginning of the period; the subsequent improvement of LOQ allowed assessing the respect of environmental quality standards (EQSs). The study analyzes time trends in single stations and the differences between detected concentrations in the considered stations. Moreover, maximum concentrations and water flows have been considered to understand the potential correlation. Cumulated frequency curves for the most critical parameters have been built to identify situation of potential overtaking of the EQSs in force. The most polluted sampling stations of the drainage basin for the six trace elements were found in Cuori and Fiumazzo rivers. Although LOQs changed over time, the recorded trends show a quality improvement and a good compliance with respect to EQSs set by European legislation, while considering EQSs set by local special legislation, the objectives are not yet satisfied. Arsenic is ubiquitous; thus, it can be supposed to be originated as a background environmental concentration, while nickel appears of industrial origin according to its point and local presence.
Keywords: Chemical status; Cumulated frequency distribution; Environmental quality standards (EQS); Limit of quantification (LOQ); Trace metals; Venice Lagoon.