Transport and fate of organochlorine pesticides in the River Wuchuan, southeast China

Zulin Zhang, Huashong Hong, John L Zhou, Gang Yu, Weiqi Chen, Xinghong Wang
Journal of Environmental Monitoring: JEM 2002, 4 (3): 435-41
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as chlorinated pesticides are of global concern due to their widespread occurrence, persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity to animals and human. This paper summarises recent research on 18 chlorinated pesticides in an important catchment in China, by determining their concentrations and behaviour in water, sediment, soil and plants. The concentrations of the total pesticides were in the ranges 187-893 ng l(-1) in river water, 8.53-210 ng g(-1) dry weight in soil, 2.66-13.45 ng g(-1) dry weight in river sediment, and 651-2823 ng g(-1) dry weight in plants. The predominance of beta-HCH as the major isomer of HCHs in all water, soil, sediment and plant samples was clearly observed, due to beta-HCH's resistance to biodegradation. On average beta-HCH accounted for 44%, 53%, 50%, and 46% of the total HCH concentration in water, soil, sediment and plant, respectively. Of the DDTs, DDE accounted for 48%, 43%, 53%, 55% of the total DDT, which suggested that DDT had been transformed to its metabolites, DDE and DDD, of which DDE was the more stable. The chlorinated pesticide levels in the River Wuchuan were generally below the guideline values in China, but some sites displayed levels in excess of EC Environmental Quality Standards for HCHs and DDTs. The results therefore provide important information on the current contamination status of a key agricultural watershed in China, and point to the need for urgent actions to evaluate the long-term fate and toxicity of such persistent compounds and an appropriate remediation strategy.

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