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

Abstract : 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 (PCBi) from 1945 to 2018 (n PCBi = 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 PCBi (up to 4 mg kg −1 dry weight, dw) and a sharp decrease in the 1980s on the Seine and Loire rivers and (2) increasing but moderate PCBi levels (50 to 150 µg 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 PCBi load (up to 12 µg m −2 yr −1 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 PCBi fluxes are 2 orders of magnitude lower than those found in American or Asian rivers. The dataset is available at https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.904277 (Dendievel et al., 2019).
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André-Marie Dendievel, Brice Mourier, Alexandra Coynel, O. Evrard, Pierre Labadie, et al.. Spatio-temporal assessment of the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) sediment contamination in four major French river corridors (1945-2018). Earth System Science Data, Copernicus Publications, 2020, 12 (2), pp.1153-1170. ⟨10.5194/essd-12-1153-2020⟩. ⟨cea-02615076⟩

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