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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2013 Apr;20(4):1993-2008. doi: 10.1007/s11356-012-1076-9. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

The legacy of persistent organic pollutants in Azerbaijan: an assessment of past use and current contamination.

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  • 1Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ, UK.


Azerbaijan has a history of production and heavy use of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) with use focused in the main agricultural lowland region centred on the Kur River. Using a number of data sources, including archived reports from several government ministries, we attempt to construct production and use inventories for dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and HCHs and compare these to scientific estimates of production and use of these chemicals in the 1960s to the 1980s. Notable discrepancies are evident particularly for DDT, with Azeri government records indicating much higher use (147-fold) than that estimated by the international scientific community. Soil and river sediment data from the 1980s and 2000s are also presented. While it is recognised that analytical uncertainties remain high for these older data (generated by GC-ECD), there is some evidence to show a decline in concentrations for some OCPs over this period. Extremely high concentrations of OCPs are evident for soils sampled in the vicinity of obsolete pesticide storage sites (found in numerous locations around the agricultural lowlands) and these levels may pose a health risk to wildlife and humans. River sediment data indicate high levels of both OCPs and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), particularly downstream of the confluence of the two main rivers, the Kur and Araz. Particle-bound annual fluxes from the Kur River into the Caspian Sea are estimated for PCBs and OCPs and these are likely to influence levels observed in local coastal sediments, with agreement between river sediment data generated in the early 2000s and coastal marine sediment data generated from separate studies. We recommend that monitoring efforts should focus on soils in agricultural areas and around pesticide storage and production facilities as these soils will continue to provide a source of POPs to the regional environment.

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