- Assessment of Organic Compounds in the Rhine Estuary
- Book title
- The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry. The Rhine
- Pages (from-to)
- Number of pages
- Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag
- Volume | Edition (Serie)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Abstract Over the past centuries the Rhine estuary has changed from a natural, hardly disturbed estuary into an anthropogenetically influenced area that extends into the North Sea. The impact of the River Rhine on the adjacent coastal zone of the North Sea has thus increased dramatically, with relatively high loads of suspended matter and associated compounds reaching as far as the Wadden Sea and further north. This chapter briefly discusses the historical changes in morphology and hydrology and reviews the concentrations of organic substances in the lower River Rhine and their possible effects on the
estuarine and adjacent coastal zones. Gradually the loadings of these zones from riverine inputs have shifted from the more persistent chemicals such as HCH and drins to PCBs and PAHs, and today to the more polar persistent compounds including surfactants and pharmaceuticals. Most of the concentrations of the persistent organic compounds have decreased, although a few, including the brominated flame retardants, show an increasing trend. Because of the large area involved and the technical problems of effect assessments
in marine areas, a proper effect assessment can hardly be made for the area. Although effects related to specific exposure (e.g. organotins) have been observed occasionally, in general neither in vivo nor in vitro responses have been observed in the Dutch coastal zone of the North Sea, not even at dumping sites for harbour dredge. Regulatory bodies disagree remarkably about the compounds that should be prioritised, or the bioassay batteries that should be involved in evaluating actual exposure. Harmonisation of procedures
is urgently needed in this respect.
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