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Identifying contemporary and historic sources of soil polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans in an industrial urban setting

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Catherine Vizard, Dr David Rimmer, Professor Tanja Pless-Mulloli, Dr Ian Singleton



A study of soil polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD/F) concentrations was undertaken in the vicinity of a municipal solid waste incinerator (MSWI) in Newcastle upon Tyne as a result of concerns raised by local residents about potential contamination from fugitive and stack emissions. The study area was divided into four sectors (north-east (NE), south-east (SE), north-west (NW) and south-west (SW)) around the MSWI, and sampling sites were located up to a distance of 2.25 km. Based on air dispersion modelling, the sampling density was four times greater in the NE (downwind) sector compared to the SW (upwind) direction, and twice as great in the NW and SE sectors. PCDD/F concentrations found in soil samples ranged from 6 to 1911 ng I-TEQ/kg DW with a median of 32 ng I-TEQ/kg DW. There was no evidence of elevated concentrations downwind of the MSWI compared to other directions, nor of any trend in concentration at increasing distance from the MSWI. We concluded, therefore, that the MSWI fugitive and stack emissions were not a major source of PCDD/F contamination. Analysis of PCDD/F homologue profiles showed that samples exhibiting furan-dominated and OCDD-dominated profiles and a profile characteristic of the MSWI ash occurred in distinct clusters. Those samples showing the furan-dominated profile had the largest PCDD/F concentrations measured as I-TEQ, followed by samples with the incinerator profile, the deposition profile, and the OCDD-dominated profile. We identified some contamination hotspots located in the SW and SE sampling sectors (upwind of the MSWI), and potential sources for these hotspots were sought by using historic land use data from maps of the locality dating back to 1856. We concluded that the cluster of very high concentrations of PCDD/F in soils showing the furan homologue profile were most likely to have resulted from the disposal of graphite electrode sludges from brine electrolysis carried out at a chemical works between the 1890s and the 1930s. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vizard CG, Rimmer DL, Pless-Mulloli T, Singleton I, Air VS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Science of the Total Environment

Year: 2006

Volume: 370

Issue: 1

Pages: 61-69

ISSN (print): 0048-9697

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2006.06.006

PubMed id: 16844199


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