Distribution of PCBs, HCHs and DDTs, and their ecotoxicological implications in Bay of Bengal, India

R Babu Rajendran, T Imagawa, H Tao, R Ramesh
Environment International 2005, 31 (4): 503-12
Analyses of environmentally persistent pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) isomers, and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and its metabolites in seawater and sediment samples collected from six locations along the east coast of India were carried out using High-Resolution Gas Chromatograph with High-Resolution Mass Spectrometer (HRGC-HRMS). Sediment and water from Chennai harbour and Cuddalore fishing harbour contained higher concentration of all the compounds. The highest concentration (6570 pg/g dry weight) of total PCB was found in sediment from Chennai harbour followed by sediments sampled in Chennai (opposite to Cooum River mouth) (505 pg/g), Cuddalore fishing harbour (335 pg/g) and Mandapam (251 pg/g). Concentrations in other locations were two orders of magnitude lower than Chennai harbour. A distinct PCB distribution pattern in sediment was observed between harbours and other locations. Greater concentrations of tetra-, penta- and hexachlorobiphenyls were observed in sediments of harbours and opposite to Cooum river mouth, but in other locations lower chlorinated biphenyls (di, tri and tetra-) were more. In seawater, HCH concentration was greater than DDT, but it was quite opposite in sediments. Elevated levels of DDT in sediment were observed only at highly populated urban locations, reflecting the local usage and input of this pesticide. Based on sediment/water quality criteria/guidelines, some coastal locations of the Bay of Bengal could be designated as being polluted by DDTs and gamma-HCH (lindane), but not by PCBs. This investigation reveals the declining trend on the environmental burden of persistent pesticides in Indian marine environment. Data on the organochlorine concentrations found in this survey can be used as reference levels for future POPs monitoring programme.


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