Metals and PFAS in stormwater and surface runoff in a semi-arid Canadian city subject to large variations in temperature among seasons

Abstract

Because compounds accumulate through dry periods and enter aquatic systems in just a few seasonal events such as snowmelt and summer storms, surface waters in semi-arid, cold regions, such as the Canadian Prairies, are particularly vulnerable to loading of contaminant from runoff events from surfaces. This study assessed concentrations of metals and selected trace organics entering a river via surface runoff from an urban region and how these semi-arid regions with large seasonal variations in temperature might differ from more temperate regions. Selected potentially harmful elements (PHEs) including, Mn with Cr, Cu, Zn, Ba and U all exceeded guideline discharge values set by the Canadian Council of the Ministers of the Environment (CCME) by as much as 16-fold. Variation among discharges during spring, summer and winter was observed. For example, across the whole city, an estimated 6 kg of zinc was discharged in a spring storm, 36 kg in a summer storm and 17 tonnes in snowmelt. The mass of Zn discharged is similar to the annual loading estimated for Stockholm, Sweden, but in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, the bulk of runoff was during snowmelt. The mean sum of poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in stormwater was 9.0 ng L−1, which is consistent with concentrations observed in other Canadian cities (6.5–16 ng L−1). These concentrations of PFAS are likely due to dispersed sources and orders of magnitude less than thresholds for toxicity to fish and aquatic invertebrates.

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Acknowledgements

This research was part of the Global Institute for Water Security, in Saskatoon Canada. The authors wish to acknowledge the support of the staff and students of the University of Saskatchewan’s Toxicology Centre for sample collection including but not limited to Bryan Sarauer and Eric Higley.

Funding

A Discovery Grant from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Project # 326415-07) and a grant from the Western Economic Diversification Canada (Project # 6578 and 6807) also supported the research, in part. This research was supported by the RECETOX Research Infrastructure (LM2015051, LM2018121 and CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_013/0001761) and the European Structural and Investment Funds (CETOCOEN PLUS: CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/15_003/0000469). Professors Giesy and Hecker were supported by the Canada Research Chairs Program of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

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Codling, G., Yuan, H., Jones, P.D. et al. Metals and PFAS in stormwater and surface runoff in a semi-arid Canadian city subject to large variations in temperature among seasons. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 18232–18241 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-08070-2

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Keywords

  • Inorganic
  • Organic
  • Contaminants
  • Stormwater
  • Snowmelt
  • Seasonality
  • PFAS
  • North America
  • Prairies