Science of the Total Environment, 10 January 2019, Vol.647, pp.645-652
Transport of hydrophobic pollutants in rivers such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals is often facilitated by suspended sediment particles, which are typically mobilized during high discharge events. Suspended sediments thus represent a means of transport for particle related pollutants within river reaches and may represent a suitable proxy for average pollutant concentrations estimation in a river reach or catchment. In this study, multiple high discharge/turbidity events were sampled at high temporal resolution in the Globaqua River Basins Sava (Slovenia, Serbia), Adige (Italy), and Evrotas (Greece) and analysed for persistent organic pollutants such as PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) or PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and heavy metals. For comparison, river bed sediment samples were analysed as well. Further, results are compared to previous studies in contrasting catchments in Germany, Iran, Spain, and beyond. Overall results show that loadings of suspended sediments with pollutants are catchment-specific and relatively stable over time at a given location. For PAHs, loadings on suspended particles mainly correlate to urban pressures (potentially diluted by sediment mass fluxes) in the rivers, whereas metal concentrations mainly display a geogenic origin. By cross-comparison with known urban pressure/sediment yield relationships (e.g. for PAHs) or soil background values (for metals) anthropogenic impact – e.g. caused by industrial activities – may be identified. Sampling of suspended sediments gives much more reliable results compared to sediment grab samples which typically show a more heterogeneous contaminant distribution. Based on mean annual suspended sediment concentrations and distribution coefficients of pollutants the fraction of particle facilitated transport versus dissolved fluxes can be calculated.
Particle Associated Pollutants ; Suspended Sediments ; Persistent Organic Pollutants ; Heavy Metals ; Environmental Sciences ; Biology ; Public Health
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