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Chemosphere. 2008 Nov;73(10):1675-83. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.07.085. Epub 2008 Sep 20.

Contamination of River Kymijoki sediments with polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans and mercury and their transport to the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea.

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Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland.


Kymijoki, the fourth largest river in Finland, has been heavily polluted by pulp mill effluents as well as the chemical industry. Up to 24,000 ton of wood preservative, chlorophenol known as Ky-5, was manufactured in the upper reaches of the river, an unknown amount of which was discharged into the river between 1940 and 1984. Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) occurred as impurities in the final Ky-5 product. The PCDD/F concentrations and burden in the river sediments were studied and the transport of PCDD/Fs from contaminated sites downstream and into the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea was estimated. More than 190 sediment cores were sampled to estimate the volume of contaminated sediments and the total PCDD/F burden. The transport of PCDD/Fs was estimated using sediment traps placed at several sites. The survey revealed that sediments in the river were heavily polluted by PCDD/Fs, the main toxic congener being 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-heptachlorodibenzofuran, a major contaminant in the Ky-5 product. The mean total concentration at the most polluted river site downstream from the main source was 42000 microg kg(-1) d.w. (106 microg I-TEQ kg(-1)). The elevated concentrations in the coastal region and the present estimated transport from the River Kymijoki confirm earlier assessments that the river is a major source of PCDD/F for the Gulf of Finland.

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