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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Dispersal of persistent organic pollutants from fiber-contaminated sediments: biotic and abiotic pathways

Dahlberg, Anna-Karin; Apler, Anna; Frogner-Kockum, Paul; Goransson, Gunnel; Snowball, Ian; Wiberg, Karin; Josefsson, Sarah

Abstract

Purpose Numerous sites contaminated with fiber emissions from pulp and paper industries are found in coastal areas of the Baltic Sea, but there is limited knowledge about the magnitude of dispersal of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) from these anthropogenic, organic-rich sediments called fiberbanks. The aim of this study was to quantify and compare different POP dispersal pathways from such fiberbanks. Dispersal mechanisms studied included abiotic and biotic routes (dissolved in water, particle-bound, and bioaccumulation). Materials and methods Contaminated fibrous sediments located in angstrom ngermanalven River estuary in north-eastern Sweden were studied in sediment types representing different fiber content (i.e., fiberbanks, fiber-rich sediments, and less fiber impacted sediments). Sediment-to-water fluxes of dissolved contaminants (polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)) were measured in situ using benthic flux chambers. Particle resuspension was measured by sampling bottom water, before and after disturbing the sediment surface. Benthic biota was collected to determine the body burden of contaminants and to determine biota-pore water accumulation factors (BAF(PW)) and biota-sediment accumulation factors (BSAFs). In addition, concentrations of dissolved POPs in the water column were measured in field using passive samplers. Instrumental analysis was performed using gas chromatography coupled to a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer (GC-MS/MS). Results and discussion The flux of dissolved sigma(20)PCBs was approximately two times higher from one of the investigated fiberbanks (3.4 ng m(- 2) day(- 1)) compared to the other. The average particle burden of PCBs was also higher at this fiberbank after artificial disturbance (15 ng g(-1) particle), which indicates that larger amounts of contaminants are likely to disperse via particle resuspension from this site compared to the other fiberbank (4.8 ng g(- 1) particle). The difference might be associated with a layer of recently settled minerogenic material that covers one of the fiberbanks, which probably functions as a protective barrier. The lack of benthic biota implies that contaminant release by bioturbation is negligible in the studied fiberbanks. However, benthic biota from fiber-rich sediment showed bioaccumulation and biomagnification of contaminants. Conclusions The importance of diffusive flux from fiberbanks under undisturbed conditions became apparent when the different dispersal pathways were quantified. However, no dispersal pathway could be judged as irrelevant, since even under undisturbed conditions, advective particle transport was significant. Additionally, the uptake by biota and trophic transfer can be considerable. Quantification of dispersal routes and understanding of the relative importance of various pathways is critical for proper risk assessment and management of contaminated sediments.

Keywords

Fiberbank; Resuspension; Benthic uptake; Sediment-to-water flux; Pulp and paper emissions

Published in

Journal of Soils and Sediments
2021, volume: 21, number: 4, pages: 1852-1865
Publisher: SPRINGER HEIDELBERG

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Apler, Anna
Geol Survey Sweden SGU
Frogner-Kockum, Paul
Swedish Geotechnical Institute (SGI)
Göransson, Gunnel
Swedish Geotechnical Institute (SGI)
Snowball, Ian
Uppsala University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Josefsson, Sarah
Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU)

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG6 Clean water
SDG14 Life below water

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-020-02871-1

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/110913