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Distribution, possible sources, and health risk assessment of SVOC pollution in small streams in Pearl River Delta, China

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The pollution levels of typical semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs) consisting of 15 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 20 organic chlorinated pesticides (OCPs), and 15 phthalate esters (PAEs) were investigated in small rivers running through the flourishing cities in Pearl River Delta region, China. The concentrations of ∑15PAHs were 2.0–48 ng/L and 29–1.2 × 103 ng/g in the water and sediment samples, respectively. The ∑20OCPs were 6.6–57 ng/L and 9.3–6.0 × 102 ng/g in the water and sediment samples, respectively. The concentrations of ∑15PAEs were much higher both in the water and sediments. The partition process of the detected SVOCs between the water and sediment did not reach the equilibrium state at most of the sites when sampling. The combustion of petroleum products and coal was the major source of the detected PAHs. The OCPs were mainly historical residue, whereas the new inputs of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), chlordane, and endosulfan were possible at several sites. The industrial and domestic sewage were the major source for the PAEs; storm water runoff accelerated the input of PAEs. No chronic risk of the SVOCs was identified by a health risk assessment through daily water consumption, except for the ∑20OCPs that might cause cancer at several sites. Nevertheless, the integrated health risk of the SVOCs should not be neglected and need intensive investigations.

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This is contribution No. IS-1847 from GIGCAS. This work was financially supported by NSFC-Guangdong Joint Funds (No. U1201234) and the Science and Technology Project of Guangdong Province, China (2012A032300010).

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Correspondence to Guiying Li or Dongbin Wei.

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Responsible editor: Roland Kallenborn

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Sun, H., An, T., Li, G. et al. Distribution, possible sources, and health risk assessment of SVOC pollution in small streams in Pearl River Delta, China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21, 10083–10095 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-014-3031-4

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  • SVOCs
  • PAHs
  • OCPs
  • PAEs
  • Source identification
  • Health risk