Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 21, Issue 10, pp 6525–6546 | Cite as

Persistence, variance and toxic levels of organochlorine pesticides in fluvial sediments and the role of black carbon in their retention

  • Musarrat Parween
  • AL. Ramanathan
  • P. S. Khillare
  • N. J. Raju
Research Article


The present study assesses the persistence and variation of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and their regulation by total organic carbon (TOC) and black carbon (BC) in freshwater sediment. Sediment samples from the Yamuna River, a major tributary of the Ganges (one of the most populated and intensively used rivers in Asia), had high levels of Σ20OCPs (21.41 to 139.95 ng g−1). β-Hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH) was the most predominant component. ΣHCH and Σdichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) constituted ~86 % of Σ20OCPs. Isomer ratios indicated fresh usage of lindane, DDT and technical-grade HCH. Toxicological comparison with freshwater sediment quality guidelines showed γ-HCH and DDT at high levels of concern. β-HCH, α-HCH, endrin, heptachlor epoxide, dichloro-diphenyl-dichloroethane (DDD), dichloro-diphenyl-dichloroethylene and chlordane were above some of the guideline levels. TOC and BC had mean concentrations of 1.37 ± 0.51 % and 0.46 ± 0.23 mg g−1, respectively. BC constituted 1.25 to 10.56 % of TOC. We observed low to moderate correlations of BC with isomers of HCH, p,p′-DDT and methoxychlor while of TOC with Σ20OCPs, γ-HCH, endosulfan sulfate and methoxychlor. Principal component analysis enabled correlating and clustering of various OCPs, BC and TOC. OCP distribution was related with pH, electrical conductivity, soil moisture and finer fractions of sediment. OCPs with similarity in properties that determine their interactions with carbonaceous components of sediment clustered together. A number of factors may, thus, be involved in the regulation of interactive forces between BC and OCPs. BC in this study may be more important than TOC in the retention of some OCPs into fluvial sediments, thereby reducing their bioavailability. The finding is probably the first of its kind to report and emphasises the role of BC in the persistence of OCPs in fluvial sediments.


Organochlorine pesticide Black carbon Ecotoxicology Principal component analysis Yamuna River Sediment Persistent Correlation 



One of the authors would like to convey gratitude to the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, for funding the research as Junior Research Fellowship to the research fellow. The analytical facilities provided by the Advanced Instrumentation Research Facility and Central Instrumentation Facility (SES), JNU, New Delhi are also duly acknowledged.

Supplementary material

11356_2014_2531_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (251 kb)
ESM 1 Physico-chemical properties of organochlorine pesticides (PDF 250 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Musarrat Parween
    • 1
  • AL. Ramanathan
    • 1
  • P. S. Khillare
    • 1
  • N. J. Raju
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environmental SciencesJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

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