Natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes impact urbanized estuarine environments. Some impacts pose potential environmental and public health risks because of legacy or emerging chemical contamination. However, characterizing the baseline spatial and temporal distribution of environmental chemical contamination before disasters remains a challenge. To address this gap, we propose using systematic evidence mapping (SEM) in order to comprehensively integrate available data from diverse sources. We demonstrate this approach is useful for tracking and clarifying legacy chemical contamination reporting in an urban estuary system. We conducted a systematic search of peer-reviewed articles, government monitoring data, and grey literature. Inclusion/exclusion criteria are used as defined by a Condition, Context, Population (CoCoPop) statement for literature from 1990 to 2019. Most of the peer-reviewed articles reported dioxins/furans or mercury within the Houston Ship Channel (HSC); there was limited reporting of other organics and metals. In contrast, monitoring data from two agencies included 89-280 individual chemicals on a near-annual basis. Regionally, peer-reviewed articles tended to record metals in Lower Galveston Bay (GB) but organics in the HSC, while the agency databases spanned a wider spatial range in GB/HSC. This SEM has shown that chemical data from peer-reviewed and grey literature articles are sparse and inconsistent. Even with inclusion of government monitoring data, full spatial and temporal distributions of baseline levels of legacy chemicals are difficult to determine. There is thus a need to expand the chemical, spatial, and temporal coverage of sampling and environmental data reporting in GB/HSC.
Keywords: Dioxins; Environmental exposure; Galveston bay; Metals; Sediments.
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