Are There Other Persistent Organic Pollutants? A Challenge for Environmental Chemists †

Environment Canada, Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Environmental Science and Technology (Impact Factor: 5.48). 04/2007; 40(23):7157-66. DOI: 10.1021/es078000n
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The past 5 years have seen some major successes in terms of global measurement and regulation of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PB&T) chemicals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The Stockholm Convention, a global agreement on POPs, came into force in 2004. There has been a major expansion of measurements and risk assessments of new chemical contaminants in the global environment, particularly brominated diphenyl ethers and perfluorinated alkyl acids. However, the list of chemicals measured represents only a small fraction of the approximately 30,000 chemicals widely used in commerce (>1 t/y). The vast majority of existing and new chemical substances in commerce are not monitored in environmental media. Assessment and screening of thousands of existing chemicals in commerce in the United States, Europe, and Canada have yielded lists of potentially persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals. Here we review recent screening and categorization studies of chemicals in commerce and address the question of whether there is now sufficient information to permit a broader array of chemicals to be determined in environmental matrices. For example, Environment Canada's recent categorization of the Domestic (existing) Substances list, using a wide array of quantitative structure activity relationships for PB&T characteristics, has identified about 5.5% of 11,317 substances as meeting P & B criteria. Using data from the Environment Canada categorization, we have listed, for discussion purposes, 30 chemicals with high predicted bioconcentration and low rate of biodegradation and 28 with long range atmospheric transport potential based on predicted atmospheric oxidation half-lives >2 days and log air-water partition coefficients > or =5 and < or =1. These chemicals are a diverse group including halogenated organics, cyclic siloxanes, and substituted aromatics. Some of these chemicals and their transformation products may be candidates for future environmental monitoring. However, to improve these predictions data on emissions from end use are needed to refine environmental fate predictions, and analytical methods may need to be developed.

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    ABSTRACT: Starting from measured river concentrations, emission factors of 158 organic compounds out of 199 analyzed belonging to different groups of priority and emerging contaminants [pesticides (25), pharmaceuticals and hormones (81), perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) (18), industrial compounds (12), drugs of abuse (8) and personal care products (14)] have been estimated by inverse modeling. The Llobregat river was taken as case study representative of Mediterranean rivers. Industrial compounds and pharmaceuticals are the dominant groups (range of 10(4)mg·1000inhab(-1)·d(-1)). Personal care products, pesticides, PFASs and illegal drugs showed a load approximately one order of magnitude smaller. Considered on a single compound basis industrial compounds still dominate (range of ca. 10(3)mg·1000inhab(-1)·d(-1)) over other classes. Generally, the results are within the range when compared to previously published estimations for other river basins. River attenuation expressed as the percentage fraction of microcontaminants eliminated was quantified. On average they were around 60-70% of the amount discharged for all classes, except for PFASs, that are poorly eliminated (ca. 20% on average). Uncertainties associated with the calculated emissions have been estimated by Monte-Carlo methods (15,000 runs) and typically show coefficients of variation of ca. 120%. Sensitivities associated with the various variables involved in the calculations (river discharge, river length, concentration, elimination constant, hydraulic travel time and river velocity) have been assessed as well. For the intervals chosen for the different variables, all show sensitivities exceeding unity (1.14 to 3.43), tending to amplify the variation of the emission. River velocity and basin length showed the highest sensitivity value. Even considering the limitations of the approach used, inverse modeling can provide a useful tool for management purposes facilitating the quantification of release rates of chemicals into the aquatic environment. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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