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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2013 Aug;20(8):5150-9. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-1488-1. Epub 2013 Jan 27.

PCB contamination in soils of the Pearl River Delta, South China: levels, sources, and potential risks.

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  • 1Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yantai, 264003, China.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contamination in tropical and sub-tropical areas and the associated risks have attracted great concern. A total of 69 samples representing five distinct land types were collected to assess PCB concentrations in the Pearl River Delta (PRD), South China, including spatial distributions in soils of the area, the probable anthropogenic sources, and related potential risks. PCBs concentrations in soils of the PRD ranged from 0.3 to 202 ng g(-1). More severe PCBs contamination was presented in the western part than in the eastern part of the PRD region. The PCBs were dominated by low-chlorinated biphenyls; however, the proportion of higher-chlorinated biphenyls was elevated with the influence of industrial activities. Principal component analysis indicated that PCBs contamination in soils of the PRD region was mainly associated with 1#PCBs, while 2#PCB and e-waste emission in South China also accounted for it partly, especially to the industrial activity severely impacted areas. Toxic equivalent (TEQ) of the dioxin-like PCBs in the soils indicated that higher risk of PCB contamination was presented in the Dongjiang River Valley (55 ng TEQ kg(-1), on average) than in the Xijiang River Valley, and were mostly contributed by the congener of PCB126.

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