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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Aug 15;41(16):5595-600.

Time trends of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in sediment cores from the Pearl River Estuary, South China.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510640, China.


The present study provides information on the time trend of PBDEs in three sediment cores from the Pearl River Estuary (PRE), South China, using 210Pb dating technique. The sigmaPBDEs (except for BDE 209) concentrations in all sediment cores increased gradually from the bottom (mid-1970s) to the middle layer (later 1980s and early 1990s) followed by different temporal trends in different locations to the surface sediments, reflecting the variations in the consumption of commercial penta-BDEs mixture in different regions of the Pearl River Delta. The BDE 209 concentrations remained constant until 1990 and thereafter increased exponentially to the present, with doubling times of 2.6 +/- 0.5-6.4 +/- 1.6 years, suggesting the increasing market demands for deca-BDE mixture after 1990 in China. The inventories of sigmaPBDEs and BDE 209 in sediments of the PRE were 56.0 and 368.2 ng cm(-2), respectively, and the total burden of PBDEs in the PRE were estimated at 8.6 metric tons. The current sigmaPBDEs and BDE 209 fluxes to the PRE were 2.1 and 29.7 ng cm(-2) yr(-1), respectively. The concurrent increase of BDE 209 fluxes and the annual gross industrial output values of electronics manufacturing revealed that the rapid growth of electronics manufacturing in this region since the early 1990s was responsible for the sharp rise of BDE 209 fluxes in the past decade. The PBDE congener compositions of the cores indicated the various input pathways for PBDEs transport to different locations of the estuary.

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