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Sci Total Environ. 2014 Sep 15;493:571-9. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.05.150. Epub 2014 Jun 27.

Evaluating the temporal variability of concentrations of POPs in a glacier-fed stream food chain using a combined modeling approach.

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  • 1Department of Science and High Technology, University of Insubria, Via Valleggio 11, 22100 Como CO, Italy.
  • 2Dipartimento di Matematica, Universit√† degli Studi di Torino, Via C. Alberto 10, 10123 Torino TO, Italy.
  • 3Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 1, 20126 Milano MI, Italy.


Falling snow acts as an efficient scavenger of contaminants from the atmosphere and, accumulating on the ground surface, behaves as a temporary storage reservoir; during snow aging and metamorphosis, contaminants may concentrate and be subject to pulsed release during intense snow melt events. In high-mountain areas, firn and ice play a similar role. The consequent concentration peaks in surface waters can pose a risk to high-altitude ecosystems, since snow and ice melt often coincide with periods of intense biological activity. In such situations, the role of dynamic models can be crucial when assessing environmental behavior of contaminants and their accumulation patterns in aquatic organisms. In the present work, a dynamic fate modeling approach was combined to a hydrological module capable of estimating water discharge and snow/ice melt contributions on an hourly basis, starting from hourly air temperatures. The model was applied to the case study of the Frodolfo glacier-fed stream (Italian Alps), for which concentrations of a number of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) and p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE) in stream water and four macroinvertebrate groups were available. Considering the uncertainties in input data, results showed a satisfying agreement for both water and organism concentrations. This study showed the model adequacy for the estimation of pollutant concentrations in surface waters and bioaccumulation in aquatic organisms, as well as its possible role in assessing the consequences of climate change on the cycle of POPs.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


DDE; EcoDyna model; Exposure; Macroinvertebrates; PCBs; Snow

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