Sediment record and atmospheric deposition of brominated flame retardants and organochlorine compounds in Lake Thun, Switzerland: lessons from the past and evaluation of the present

Christian Bogdal, Peter Schmid, Martin Kohler, Claudia E Müller, Saverio Iozza, Thomas D Bucheli, Martin Scheringer, Konrad Hungerbühler
Environmental Science & Technology 2008 September 15, 42 (18): 6817-22
Chronology of brominated fame retardants (BFRs), a class of currentlywidely used chemicals, was compared to the respective historical profiles of legacy organochlorine compounds in three dated sediment cores from a prealpine lake (Lake Thun, Switzerland). Concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs) started to increase in the 1980s-1990s. In the more recent sediment layers, PBDEs still had steady or increasing concentrations, whereas for HBCDs one sediment core revealed a decreasing trend. In contrast to the contemporary BFRs, concentrations of legacy organochlorines, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs), and dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT), peaked in deeper sediment layers deposited some decades ago. Measurements of atmospheric deposition and evaluation of wastewater discharges pointtoward deposition on the lake surface as a relevant input pathway and wastewater as a minor source of POPs in Lake Thun. The effect of the environmental awareness and the regulations taken in the 1970s to reduce environmental pollution of organochlorines is well reflected in the analyzed sediment cores. The sediment burden closely follows estimated time trends of consumption and emission of PCBs and DDT. The current residues in sediment of BFRs are still lower than the historical peak levels of organochlorines. However, current atmospheric deposition of BFRs is similar to deposition of PCBs. Considering the high amount of BFRs presently stocked in the anthroposphere in flame proofed materials, further measures to reduce emissions during BFRs life cycle are recommended to prevent high environmental pollution as it occurred for the organochlorine compounds.

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