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The impact of multiple anthropogenic contaminants on the terrestrial environment of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia


The anthropogenic impact on the terrestrial environment of the Plitvice Lakes National Park (PLNP) was investigated through the analysis of three groups of major contaminants (persistent organochlorine pollutants including 15 organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and 17 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), trace elements/heavy metals (6 major and 23 trace constituents), and anthropogenic radionuclides (90Sr, 134Cs, and 137Cs)) in three terrestrial compartments (soil, air, and bioindicators of air contamination) during 2011–2013. The correlation coefficients of element mass fractions with soil properties indicated that total Fe and Al minerals, soil organic matter (OM), and organic carbon (OC) content affected the mass fractions of most trace elements in the topsoils. The annual and spatial distributions of heavy metals in total deposited matter (TDM) indicated that the metals came from natural sources and long-range transfer of particulate matter. The PCB and OCP levels found in soil and conifer needles corresponded to global environmental pollution levels by persistent organic pollutants and represented the lower end of the mass fraction ranges reported in the relevant literature. Analyses of anthropogenic radionuclides in bioindicators (conifer needles, lichens, and mosses) showed low but measurable activity concentrations of 134Cs (for the first time after the Chernobyl accident), which indicated origin from the March 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident. Our overall results indicated that human activity inside or near the PLNP had no significant impact either on contaminant spread by air or on their content in topsoils.

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The project “Monitoring of organic and inorganic pollutants in the environment of the Plitvice Lakes National Park” was financed by the Public Institution “Plitvice Lakes” (contract no. 01-100-243/10, Zagreb, and contract no. 14983/10, Plitvice Lakes). The authors would like to thank Jasminka Senčar for the gamma-ray spectrometry analyses; Ljerka Petroci for the Sr determinations; Mladen Komesar, Mak Avdić, Vjeran Dasović, and Ranka Godec for the field sampling; and Makso Herman for the language editing. Special thanks to Dr. Vlasta Drevenkar for her great efforts in improving the quality of the paper.

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Correspondence to Zorana Kljaković-Gašpić.

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Herceg Romanić, S., Kljaković-Gašpić, Z., Bituh, T. et al. The impact of multiple anthropogenic contaminants on the terrestrial environment of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia. Environ Monit Assess 188, 27 (2016).

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  • Metal(oid)s
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Organochlorine pesticides
  • Radionuclides
  • Soil
  • Total deposited matter