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Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology provides concise, critical reviews of timely advances, philosophy and significant areas of accomplished or needed endeavor in the total field of xenobiotics, in any segment of the environment, as well as toxicological implications.



How to Adapt Chemical Risk Assessment for Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction Related to the Water System

We identify uncertainties and knowledge gaps of chemical risk assessment related to unconventional drillings and propose adaptations. We discuss how chemical risk assessment in the context of unconventional oil and gas (UO&G) activities differs from conventional chemical risk assessment and the implications for existing legislation. A UO&G suspect list of 1,386 chemicals that might be expected in the UO&G water samples was prepared which can be used for LC-HRMS suspect screening. We actualize information on reported concentrations in UO&G-related water. Most information relates to shale gas operations, followed by coal-bed methane, while only little is available for tight gas and conventional gas. The limited research on conventional oil and gas recovery hampers comparison whether risks related to unconventional activities are in fact higher than those related to conventional activities. No study analyzed the whole cycle from fracturing fluid, flowback and produced water, and surface water and groundwater. Generally target screening has been used, probably missing contaminants of concern. Almost half of the organic compounds analyzed in surface water and groundwater exceed TTC values, so further risk assessment is needed, and risks cannot be waived. No specific exposure scenarios toward groundwater aquifers exist for UO&G-related activities. Human errors in various stages of the life cycle of UO&G production play an important role in the exposure. Neither at the international level nor at the US federal and the EU levels, specific regulations for UO&G-related activities are in place to protect environmental and human health. UO&G activities are mostly regulated through general environmental, spatial planning, and mining legislation.
Ann-Hélène Faber, Mark Annevelink, Herman Kasper Gilissen, Paul Schot, Marleen van Rijswick, Pim de Voogt, Annemarie van Wezel

A Review of the Chemistry, Pesticide Use, and Environmental Fate of Sulfur Dioxide, as Used in California

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is an atmospheric pollutant that is moderately persistent in the atmosphere and highly water soluble. When applied as a pesticide, SO2 may be transported, deposited, or transformed in various chemical reactions. SO2 participates in the sulfur biogeochemical cycle, which involves complex reactions of sulfur-containing compounds between abiotic and biotic components of ecosystems. The main degradation route of SO2 is atmospheric oxidation, and sulfur oxides may undergo long-distance transport prior to removal from the atmosphere by wet or dry deposition. According to the Pesticide Use Reporting (PUR) database maintained by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), SO2 use in California from 2010 to 2015 was primarily for fumigations (96%), including treatments of postharvest grape products and winery equipment sterilizations. Other site uses contributed less than 5% of reported statewide SO2 use from 2010 to 2015. A slight increasing trend in use of SO2 as a pesticide was observed from 2010 to 2015, with the highest reported uses of SO2 within California counties during the months of July–November. Although the primary sources of SO2 in the environment are anthropogenic emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels, emissions of SO2 from pesticide uses have the potential to contribute to the environmental and public welfare impacts of SO2 pollution. Oxidation of atmospheric SO2 may contribute to the negative environmental and public welfare impacts of acid rain, which include toxicity to aquatic organisms, fish, and terrestrial vegetation, and corrosion of man-made materials.
Kelsey Craig

A Nondestructive Method to Identify POP Contamination Sources in Omnivorous Seabirds

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are present in almost all environments due to their high bioaccumulation potential. Especially species that adapted to human activities, like gulls, might be exposed to harmful concentrations of these chemicals. The nature and degree of the exposure to POPs greatly vary between individual gulls, due to their diverse foraging behavior and specialization in certain foraging tactics. Therefore, in order clarify the effect of POP-contaminated areas on gull populations, it is important to identify the sources of POP contamination in individual gulls. Conventional sampling methods applied when studying POP contamination are destructive and ethically undesired. The aim of this literature review was to evaluate the potential of using feathers as a nondestructive method to determine sources of POP contamination in individual gulls. The reviewed data showed that high concentrations of PCBs and PBDEs in feathers together with a large proportion of less bioaccumulative congeners may indicate that the contamination originates from landfills. Low PCB and PBDE concentrations in feathers and a large proportion of more bioaccumulative congeners could indicate that the contamination originates from marine prey. We propose a nondestructive approach to identify the source of contamination in individual gulls based on individual contamination levels and PCB and PBDE congener profiles in feathers. Despite some uncertainties that might be reduced by future research, we conclude that especially when integrated with other methods like GPS tracking and the analysis of stable isotopic signatures, identifying the source of POP contamination based on congener profiles in feathers could become a powerful nondestructive method.
Rosanne J. Michielsen, Judy Shamoun-Baranes, John R. Parsons, Michiel H.S. Kraak

The Environmental Behavior of Methylene-4,4′-dianiline

Methylene-4,4′-dianiline (MDA, CAS-No. 101–77-9) is a high production volume intermediate that is mainly processed to diisocyanates and finally polyurethanes. This review summarizes available data concerning the environmental behavior. When released into the environment, MDA distributes into water and subsequently sediment and soil compartments; the air is of little relevance, owed to the low vapor pressure and short atmospheric half-life, which renders MDA non-critical for long-range transport. Biodegradation data present a diverged picture; in some tests, MDA is not readily biodegradable or even not inherent biodegradable; in other tests, MDA turned out to be readily biodegradable (but failing the 10-d window). The history and composition of the inoculum used for testing seem to play an important role, which is underlined by good test results with adapted inoculum. In soil, initially a rapid mineralization is observed, which slows down within the first days due to competitive chemical absorption. The latter results in degradation rates comparable to that of natural organic matter. Under anaerobic conditions, mineralization is poor. Irreversible chemisorption occurs unless soils/sediments are highly reduced. Half-lives due to primary decay do not indicate MDA to be persistent according to the regulatory guidance used in then EU, Canada, or the USA; in Japan, however, due to test results in MITI degradation tests, MDA would be regarded as persistent. The identification of microbial MDA metabolites deserves further research. MDA is not bioaccumulative, but it is toxic to aquatic organisms and mammals. MDA in pore water of soils is rapidly adsorbed on the surface of plant roots. Test runs were too short to draw a final conclusion with regards to transport to stem, leaves, and fruits. Data from structurally similar compounds indicate that such transport would account for less than 1% of the root-adsorbed material.
Thomas Schupp, Hans Allmendinger, Christian Boegi, Bart T. A. Bossuyt, Bjoern Hidding, Summer Shen, Bernard Tury, Robert J. West

Distribution of Microplastics and Nanoplastics in Aquatic Ecosystems and Their Impacts on Aquatic Organisms, with Emphasis on Microalgae

Plastics, with their many useful physical and chemical properties, are widely used in various industries and activities of daily living. Yet, the insidious effects of plastics, particularly long-term effects on aquatic organisms, are not properly understood. Plastics have been shown to degrade to micro- and nanosize particles known as microplastics and nanoplastics, respectively. These minute particles have been shown to cause various adverse effects on aquatic organisms, ranging from growth inhibition, developmental delay and altered feeding behaviour in aquatic animals to decrease of photosynthetic efficiency and induction of oxidative stress in microalgae. This review paper covers the distribution of microplastics and nanoplastics in aquatic ecosystems, focusing on their effects on microalgae as well as co-toxicity of microplastics and nanoplastics with other pollutants. Besides that, this review paper also discusses future research directions which could be taken to gain a better understanding of the impacts of microplastics and nanoplastics on aquatic ecosystems.
Jun-Kit Wan, Wan-Loy Chu, Yih-Yih Kok, Choy-Sin Lee


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