Publication details

An assessment of air-soil exchange of polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides across Central and Southern Europe.



Year of publication 2008
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Environmental Science and Technology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Environment influence on health
Keywords Soil air exchange; POP cycling; Fugacity fraction; Polychlorinated biphenyls; Organochlorine pesticides; Yugoslavia
Description Estimating the net flux direction of polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides is important for understanding the role of soil as a sink or source of these chemicals to the atmosphere. In this study, soil air equilibrium status was investigated for various soil categories in Central and Southern Europe using an extensive database of coupled soil and time integrated air samples. Samples were collected from 47 sites over a period of five months to assess both, site-specific as well as seasonal variations in fugacity fractions; calculated as a potential measure of soil air exchange. Sampling sites were carefully selected to represent a variety of background, rural, urban, and industrial areas. Special attention was given to sites in the former Yugoslavia; a country affected by recent conflicts, where soils were found to be highly contaminated with PCBs. Industrial soils from the Czech Republic, heavily polluted as a result of previous pesticide production, were also included in the survey. Soil was found to be a sink for highly chlorinated PCBs and for DDT; for DDE the status was closer to equilibrium, with a tendency for net deposition during winter and net volatilization during summer. For lower molecular weight PCB congeners, as well as for a-HCH, soil tends to be a source of pollution to the air, especially, but not exclusively, during summer. Fugacity fractions were found to decrease during the colder seasons, especially for the more volatile compounds, although in both the war damaged areas and the heavily contaminated industrial sites, seasonal variability was very low, with fugacity fractions close to one indicating strong net soil to air transfer for all seasons. The original assumption that residents of Western Balkan are still exposed to higher levels of PCBs due to the recent wars was confirmed. In general, the soil air transfer of PCBs and OC pesticides was found to be site specific and dependent on the physicochemical properties of the contaminant in question, the soil properties, the historical contamination record and a sites vicinity to sources, and the local meteorological conditions.
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