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Chemosphere. 2008 Oct;73(7):1027-31. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.08.017. Epub 2008 Sep 20.

Is meltwater from Alpine glaciers a secondary DDT source for lakes?

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1
University of Insubria, Department of Chemical Environmental Sciences, Via Valleggio 11, 22100 Como, Italy. roberta.bettinetti@uninsubria.it

Abstract

A sharp increase in 2005 of pp'DDT and its metabolites was observed in mussels and fish from lakes Como and Iseo, the main glacier-fed southern Alpine lakes. DDTs in zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) were more than 150 times higher than levels in 2003, and concentrations in pelagic fish (0.12 mgkg(-1) w.w.) exceeded the Italian safety threshold for human consumption (0.05 mgkg(-1) w.w.). The histological examination of the ovaries revealed many mussels with oocyte degeneration throughout the studied period. Prior to being banned in Italy in 1978, DDT was used in large amounts for fruit-tree treatment from the 1950s to 1970s in valleys just below the glaciers. Since glacier volume was increasing at that time and then continuously retreated, meltwater should be the main cause of the pollution peak recently observed in biota of downstream lakes. PCBs did not peak in biota tissues to a comparable extent probably because local sources were not as important as for DDTs.

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