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Environ Sci Technol. 2003 Feb 15;37(4):667-72.

Global distribution and budget of PCBs and HCB in background surface soils: implications for sources and environmental processes.

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Environmental Science Department, Institute of Environmental and Natural Sciences, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK.


This paper presents data from a survey of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) concentrations in 191 global background surface (0-5 cm) soils. Differences of up to 4 orders of magnitude were found between sites for PCBs. The lowest and highest PCB concentrations (26 and 97,000 pg/g dw) were found in samples from Greenland and mainland Europe (France, Germany, Poland), respectively. Background soil PCB concentrations were strongly influenced by proximity to source region and soil organic matter (SOM) content Most (>80%) of the estimated soil PCB burden remains in the "global source region" of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) temperate latitudes (30-60 degrees N) or in the OM-rich soils just north of that %SOM correlated with PCB and HCB in the global data set, with the correlation coefficients being greater for HCB and the lighter PCBs than for heavier homologues. OM-rich soils in the NH consistently contained the highest burdens; such soils are a key global compartment for these compounds. Evidence for global fractionation of PCBs was found in the subset of soils from latitudes north of the global source region but was not discerned with the global data set The full data set was used to estimate the burden for individual congeners/homologues in surface background soils and a global soil total PCB burden of 21,000 t. The significance of the inventory is briefly discussed in relation to the latest estimates of global production and atmospheric emission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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