34.  Simulation of a PCB Pollutant Fate in a Riverine Pathway for a Low Level Discharge

Authors: C. Maria, G. Maria


Abstract:

The low biodegradability and high persistence in environment of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) make their removal difficult and incomplete in conventional (chemical-biological) wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), and frequent oversteps (5-250 ng/L) of the admissible limits in effluents (1 ng/L) are reported worldwide. In general, accidental discharges of low loads might not be so critical, due to the fast pollutant dispersion over a short river-section downstream the release point. In contrast, this problem can turn into a serious one if the pollutant is a POP (persistent organic pollutants, as the PCBs), even for small concentrations in the WWTP effluent, due to its known high bioaccumulation capacity in the environment. The paper illustrates, for the case of a low-level but frequent PCB-52 discharge from a WWTP, the high pollution potential for the river. By using a combined advective-dispersive dynamic model, including the phase-exchange and bioaccumulation terms in biota and sediments, it is proved how a small but quasi-continuous release of PCB can become dangerous on a long term. The model allows predicting the “moving pollution front” effect propagated downstream the river, as soon as the aquatic phase-exchange equilibrium tends to be reached in the critical discharge section.


Keywords: PCB-52, river pollution, bioaccumulation, biota, sediments

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