Netherland Journal of Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 27, Issue 2–4, pp 301–308 | Cite as

Behaviour of selected PCBs, PAHs and γ-HCH in the Scheldt estuary, S.W. Netherlands

  • R. Van Zoest
  • G. T. M. Van Eck


The behaviour of some organic micropollutants in the abiotic compartments water, particulate matter and bottom sediments of the Scheldt estuary, S.W. Netherlands, was studied between 1986 and 1989. Special attention was given to two individual PolyChlorinated Biphenyl congeners (PCB 52 and PCB 153), two Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) fluoranthene and benzo(a)pyrene and γ-HCH. Dissolved PCBs and γ-HCH behave conservatively during estuarine mixing. The concentration of γ-HCH in the fresh-water is extremely high in spring compared to the other seasons. Dissolved fluoranthene does not behave conservatively. The concentration of dissolved fluoranthene in the freshwater endmember shows a seasonal dependence with highest concentrations in winter and lowest in summer. Benzo(a)pyrene could hardly be detected in the dissolved phase with the methods used. PCBs and PAHs in particulate matter and sediments behave essentially conservatively as a result of the mixing of riverine particulates with high, and marine particulates with low organic micropollutant contents. Particulate fluoranthene is removed at low salinities under (nearly) anoxic conditions probably by microbial degradation. The rivers Scheldt and Rupel appear to be the major sources for the compounds studied. However, in particular the organic micropollutant contents of the sediments indicate that important emissions along the estuary were or are still present. Measurements of individual PCBs and PAHs in the <63 μm fraction of a dated sediment core from a salt marsh in the eastern part of the Scheldt estuary show that the recent input of PCBs and PAHs into the estuaryis probably 2–3 times lower than the maximum input in the mid-1960s. The PCB profile shows postdepositional congener-selective mobilization caused by advective transport. The PAH assemblage is remarkably uniform in the sediment core. The PAH ratios indicate that combustion of coal is the main source of PAHs in the Scheldt estuary.


PCB PAH γ-HCH dissolved particulate sediment input Scheldt estuary 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Van Zoest
    • 1
  • G. T. M. Van Eck
    • 2
  1. 1.Grontmij N.V.De BiltThe Netherlands
  2. 2.National Institute for Coastal and Marine Management/RIKZMinistry of Transport, Public Works and Water ManagementMiddelburgThe Netherlands

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