Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in watershed soils of the Pearl River Delta, China: occurrence, inventory, and fate

Meng-Yao Zou, Yong Ran, Jian Gong, Bi-Xian Mai, Eddy Y Zeng
Environmental Science & Technology 2007 December 15, 41 (24): 8262-7
Soils play an important role in the distribution and biogeochemical cycling of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) as they are a major reservoir and sink for PBDEs due to their large sorption capacity. In this study, concentrations, compositional profiles, mass inventories, and fate of sigma9PBDEs (28, 47, 66, 100, 99, 154, 153, 138, 183) and BDE 209 were investigated in 33 surface soils, six profile soils, and three point-source polluted soils (close to e-waste dismantling sites) from the Pearl River Delta (PRD), China. The concentrations of sigma9PBDEs and BDE 209 in the surface soils ranged from 0.13 to 3.81 ng/g with an average of 1.02 ng/g and from 2.38 to 66.6 ng/g with an average of 13.8 ng/g, respectively, and ranged from 1.93 to 19.5 ng/g and from 25.7 to 102 ng/g, respectively, in the point-source contaminated soils. The PBDE compositional patterns in the surface soils indicated deca-BDE, penta-BDE, and octa-BDE products as the main sources, but those in the point-source samples suggested deca-BDE and octa-BDE technical mixtures as the dominant sources. The mass inventories of PBDEs in soils of the PRD were estimated at 3.98 and 44.4 t for sigma9PBDEs and BDE 209, respectively. The average loading of PBDEs in the soils was comparable to that in the sediments of the Pearl River Estuary, suggesting that soil erosion and surface runoff are an important mode to transport PBDEs from terrestrial sources to oceans in the PRD. Individual BDE congeners, sigma9PBDEs, and PBDE 209, were significantly correlated with total organic carbon (TOC), and a good regression (except for BDE 47) between the logarithms of TOC-normalized BDE average concentrations and their log K(ow) was also obtained, indicating that sorption of PBDEs on soil organic matter governed their spatial distribution, transportation, and fate in the soils. Predicted aqueous and gaseous concentrations of PBDEs were derived from the soil-water and soil-air partitioning models, respectively, and good agreements were obtained between the predicted and previously reported values. BDE 47 and/or 28 did not appear to follow the same trend for these models, an indication that an portion of them was likely the biodegradation byproducts in soils.

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