Publication details

Melting Himalayan glaciers contaminated by legacy atmospheric depositions are important sources of PCBs and high-molecular-weight PAHs for the Ganges floodplain during dry periods

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SHARMA Brij Mohan NIZZETTO Luca BHARAT Girija K. TAYAL Shresth MELYMUK Lisa Emily SÁŇKA Ondřej PŘIBYLOVÁ Petra AUDY Ondřej LARSSEN Thorjorn

Year of publication 2015
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Environmental Pollution
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Water pollution and control
Keywords PCBs; PAHs; DDT; Glacier; India
Description Melting glaciers are natural redistributors of legacy airborne pollutants, affecting exposure of pristine proglacial environments. Our data shows that melting Himalayan glaciers can be major contributors of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and high-molecular-weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) for surface water in the Gangetic Plain during the dry season. Glacial emissions can exceed in some cases inputs from diffuse sources within the catchment. We analyzed air, deposition and river water in several sections along the Ganges River and its major headwaters. The predominant glacial origin of these contaminants in the Himalayan reach was demonstrated using air-water fugacity ratios and mass balance analysis. The proportion of meltwater emissions compared to pollutant discharge at downstream sections in the central part of the Gangetic Plain was between 2 and 200%. By remobilizing legacy pollutants from melting glaciers, climate change can enhance exposure levels over large and already heavily impacted regions of Northern India.
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