Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 5782–5794 | Cite as

Depth profile of persistent and emerging organic pollutants upstream of the Three Gorges Dam gathered in 2012/2013

  • Dominik DeyerlingEmail author
  • Jingxian Wang
  • Yonghong Bi
  • Chengrong Peng
  • Gerd Pfister
  • Bernhard Henkelmann
  • Karl–Werner Schramm
Research Article


Persistent and emerging organic pollutants were sampled in September 2012 and 2013 at a sampling site in front of the Three Gorges Dam near Maoping (China) in a water depth between 11 and 61 m to generate a depth profile of analytes. A novel compact water sampling system with self-packed glass cartridges was employed for the on-site enrichment of approximately 300 L of water per sample to enable the detection of low analytes levels in the picogram per liter-scale in the large water body. The overall performance of the sampling system was acceptable for the qualitative detection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), perfluoroalkylic acids (PFAAs), pharmaceutical residues and polar pesticides. Strongly particle-associated analytes like PAHs and PCBs resided mainly in the glass wool filter of the sampling system, whereas all other compounds have mainly been enriched on the XAD-resin of the self-packed glass cartridges. The sampling results revealed qualitative information on the presence, depth distribution and origin of the investigated compounds. Although the depth profile of PAHs, PCBs, OCPs, and PFAAs appeared to be homogeneous, pharmaceuticals and polar pesticides were detected in distinct different patterns with water depth. Source analysis with diagnostic ratios for PAHs revealed their origin to be pyrogenic (burning of coal, wood and grass). In contrast, most PCBs and OCPs had to be regarded as legacy pollutants which have been released into the environment in former times and still remain present due to their persistence. The abundance of emerging organic pollutants could be confirmed, and their most abundant compounds could be identified as perfluorooctanoic acid, diclofenac and atrazine among investigated PFAAs, pharmaceuticals and polar pesticides, respectively.


Monitoring Depth profile Persistent organic compounds Perfluoroalkylic acids Pharmaceutical residues Environmental fate 



We like to thank Silke Bernhöft and Felix Antritter for the support during laboratory cleanup. Thanks to Claudia Tschammler and Christian Franik for improving the manuscript. This project was gratefully funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, 02WT1130).

Supplementary material

11356_2015_5805_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (150 kb)
ESM 1 Supplementary data associated with this article can be found in the online version. (PDF 149 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dominik Deyerling
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jingxian Wang
    • 1
    • 3
  • Yonghong Bi
    • 3
  • Chengrong Peng
    • 3
  • Gerd Pfister
    • 2
  • Bernhard Henkelmann
    • 2
  • Karl–Werner Schramm
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Technische Universität München, Wissenschaftszentrum Weihenstephan für ErnährungLandnutzung und Umwelt, Lehrstuhl für analytische LebensmittelchemieFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental HealthMolecular EXposomicsNeuherbergGermany
  3. 3.The State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of HydrobiologyChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  4. 4.Department für Biowissenschaften, Technische Universität München, Wissenschaftszentrum Weihenstephan für ErnährungLandnutzung und UmweltFreisingGermany

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