Publication details

The influence of tree species composition on the storage and mobility of semivolatile organic compounds in forest soils



Year of publication 2016
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Science of the Total Environment
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Environment influence on health
Keywords Forest horizon; Mobilization; Soil profile; PAHs; PCBs; Humic substances; Enrichment factors; Tree composition; Global change
Description Soil contamination with PCBs and PAHs in adjacent forest plots, characterized by a distinct composition in tree species (spruce only, mixed and beech only), was analyzed to investigate the influence of ecosystem type on contaminant mobility in soil under very similar climate and exposure conditions. Physical-chemical properties and contaminant concentrations in litter (L), organic (F, H) and mineral (A, B) soil horizons were analyzed. Contaminant distribution in the soil core varied both in relation to forest type and contaminant group/properties. Contaminant mobility in soil was assessed by examining the ratios of total organic carbon (TOC)-standardized concentrations across soil horizons (Enrichment factors, EFTOC) and the relationship between EFTOC and the octanol-water equilibrium partitioning coefficient (K-OW). Contaminant distribution appeared to be highly unsteady, with pedogenic/biogeochemical drivers controlling contaminant mobility in organic layers and leaching controlling accumulation in mineral layers. Lighter PCBs displayed higher mobility in all forest types primarily controlled by leaching and, to a minor extent, diffusion. Pedogenic processes controlling the formation of soil horizons were found to be crucial drivers of PAHs and heavier PCBs distribution. All contaminants appeared to be more mobile in the soil of the broadleaved plot, followed by mixed canopy and spruce forest. Increasing proportion of deciduous broadleaf species in the forest can thus lead to faster degradation or the faster leaching of PAHs and PCBs. The composition of humic substances was found to be a better descriptor of contaminant concentration than TOC.
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