Screening criteria for long-range transport potential of organic substances in water

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Screening of long-range transport potential (LRTP) of organic chemicals in water requires the development of criteria in analogy to the existing LRTP criteria for airborne chemicals. According to the Stockholm Convention, compounds mainly partitioning into air are assumed to be prone to LRTP if they have a half-life in air of more than two days. Using mean flow velocities of European rivers (0.7-1 m/s) and of ocean currents running into the Arctic Ocean (0.28-0.9 m/s), we derived corresponding half-life criteria for freshwater and seawater (10 days and 90 days, respectively). Next, we calculated the characteristic travel distance (CTD) of several thousand chemicals from the Canadian Domestic Substances List (DSL) and all current POPs using the multimedia model ELPOS. This shows that the CTD in water dominates the CTD in air only for chemicals that are characterized by a large half-life in water and a low air-water partition coefficient (about 38% of the nonionic organic substances selected from the DSL). In particular, there are substances that are not classified as persistent compounds in water but exhibit higher CTDs for transport in water than for transport in air. Finally, we evaluated whether the LRTP boundary derived from POP reference chemicals has to be revised if LRTP in water is included and found that this boundary can be applied to all organic chemicals regardless of their transport in air or water.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number23
Pages (from-to)10075-10081
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.12.2011

    Research areas

  • Chemistry - Environmental Monitoring, Fresh Water, Models, Theoretical, Organic Chemicals, Water