Spatio-temporal assessment of the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) sediment contamination in four major French river corridors (1945–2018)

Dendievel, André-Marie; Mourier, Brice; Coynel, Alexandra; Evrard, Olivier; Labadie, Pierre; Ayrault, Sophie; Debret, Maxime; Koltalo, Florence; Copard, Yoann; Faivre, Quentin; Gardes, Thomas; Vauclin, Sophia; Budzinski, Hélène; Grosbois, Cécile; Winiarski, Thierry; Desmet, Marc

Environmental pollution by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is a key cause for concern about river quality because of their low degradation rates leading to their accumulation in sediments and living organisms. An original interdisciplinary work was conducted along the four main French rivers (Seine, Rhône, Loire and Garonne rivers), which flow into major European seas. We completed a dataset based on sediment analyses provided by monitoring agencies, port authorities and research teams on different solid matrices (sediment cores, bed and flood deposits, suspended particulate matter and dredged sediments). This dataset focused on the seven indicator PCBs and their sum (inline-formulaΣPCBi) from 1945 to 2018 (inline-formulanΣPCBi inline-formula=1416). Special effort was put into the quality control to provide robust spatio-temporal information. Taking into account hydrological and human drivers, we outlined two main pollution trends: (1) from 1945 to 1975, a quick increase in inline-formulaΣPCBi (up to 4 mg kginline-formula−1 dry weight, dw) and a sharp decrease in the 1980s on the Seine and Loire rivers and (2) increasing but moderate inline-formulaΣPCBi levels (50 to 150 inline-formulaµg kg−1 dw) followed by a decline after the 1990s on the Rhône and Garonne rivers. In addition to these patterns, PCB emissions from urban and industrial areas or accidental events were significant in each river. Finally, when calculating specific flux, the Rhône exhibited the uppermost inline-formulaΣPCBi load (up to 12 inline-formula M9inlinescrollmathml unit normal µ normal g 0.125emnobreak normal m - normal 2 0.125emnobreak normal yr - normal 1 56pt15ptsvg-formulamathimgef04fb5fd0777a605d955fbe5af4a6c2 essd-12-1153-2020-ie00001.svg56pt15ptessd-12-1153-2020-ie00001.png in 1977–1987), at least 25 % higher than those of the Seine and Loire rivers, while the Garonne showed a very low flux. In western Europe, we confirmed that the Rhône, Seine and Loire rivers contribute significantly to the PCB contamination of the seas, while French specific inline-formulaΣPCBi fluxes are 2 orders of magnitude lower than those found in American or Asian rivers. The dataset is available at (Dendievel et al., 2019).



Dendievel, André-Marie / Mourier, Brice / Coynel, Alexandra / et al: Spatio-temporal assessment of the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) sediment contamination in four major French river corridors (1945–2018). 2020. Copernicus Publications.


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Rechteinhaber: André-Marie Dendievel et al.

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