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Models of the Distribution of Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Marine Environment

by Persson, N. Johan

Abstract (Summary)
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is a group of chemicals that are toxic, undergo long-range transport and accumulate in biota. Due to their persistency the distribution and recirculation in the environment often continues for a long period of time. Thereby they appear virtually everywhere within the biosphere, and poses a toxic stress to living organisms. In this thesis, attempts are made to contribute to the understanding of factors that influence the distribution of POPs with focus on processes in the marine environment. The bioavailability and the spatial distribution are central topics for the environmental risk management of POPs. In order to study these topics, various field studies were undertaken. To determine the bioavailable fraction of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) the aqueous dissolved phase were sampled and analysed. In the same samples, we also measured how much of these POPs were associated with suspended particles. Different models, which predicted the phase distribution of these POPs, were then evaluated. It was found that important water characteristics, which influenced the solid-water phase distribution of POPs, were particulate organic matter (POM), particulate soot (PSC), and dissolved organic matter (DOM). The bioavailable dissolved POP-phase in the water was lower when these sorbing phases were present. Furthermore, sediments were sampled and the spatial distribution of the POPs was examined. The results showed that the concentration of PCDD/Fs, and PCNs were better described using PSC- than using POM-content of the sediment. In parallel with these field studies, we synthesized knowledge of the processes affecting the distribution of POPs in a multimedia mass balance model. This model predicted concentrations of PCDD/Fs throughout our study area, the Grenlandsfjords in Norway, within factors of ten. This makes the model capable to validate the effect of suitable remedial actions in order to decrease the exposure of these POPs to biota in the Grenlandsfjords which was the aim of the project. Also, to evaluate the influence of eutrophication on the marine occurrence PCB data from the US Musselwatch and Benthic Surveillance Programs are examined in this thesis. The dry weight based concentrations of PCB in bivalves were found to correlate positively to the organic matter content of nearby sediments, and organic matter based concentrations of PCB in sediments were negatively correlated to the organic matter content of the sediment.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Stockholms universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Chemistry; Environmental chemistry; persistent organic pollutants; mass balance models; fugacity models; eutrophication; PCDD/F; PCB; PCN; soot carbon.

ISBN:91-7265-665-4

Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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