Chemical, biological, and ecotoxicological assessment of pesticides and persistent organic pollutants in the Bahlui River, Romania.Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2009 Aug; 16 Suppl 1:S76-85.ES
BACKGROUND, AIM, AND SCOPE
Current knowledge on environmental impacts of industrial activities in Romania, particularly persistent organic pollutants (POPs), indicates that environmental standards of the European Union are not systematically met. In our study area, additional sources of POPs are agriculture and domestic wastes. Very scarce information is available upon environmental contaminations and effects. In the present study, we investigated the chemical pollution and their eventual impact on the ecosystem by measuring POPs and by using biological indicators of pollution.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The survey was carried out at six main sample sites along the Bahlui River. Sediments were chemically analysed for their content in polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs)-hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs) isomers and the dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) family. River water was biologically monitored at the level of phytoplankton and benthic invertebrates' communities. Water samples from six locations have been analyzed for algal species composition and correspondence to various water quality indices. Biological samples have been taken from the same locations so as to calculate the macroinvertebrate indices. In the most polluted areas, as revealed by previous methods, toxicity was tested by exposing the green alga Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata and the cladoceran Daphnia magna to various dilutions of water sample.
Important concentrations of POPs were identified only in sediments at river mouths (sites S5 and S6). Along the year, the sum of PCB concentrations ranged between 3 and 10 ng/g dw (S5), and between 4 and 26 ng/g dw (S6). Concentration of HCHs ranged between 0.4 and 3 ng/g dw (both S5 and S6) with a higher contribution of the gamma-HCH (30-70%), followed by beta-HCH (20-50%). The beta-HCH isomer was found at lower concentrations or even not detected in outer city sites. DDTs were found at higher concentrations than HCHs and ranged between 0.18 and 4 ng/g dw (S5) and between 0.56 and 18 ng/g dw (S6). The parent compound, p,p'-DDT, could be detected only in low concentrations (up to 5 ng/g dw) and contributed with less than 30% to the sum of DDTs in sediment. The principal contributors of the SigmaDDTs in sediment were p,p'-DDE, and p,p'-DDD. The o,p'-DDD and DDT isomers were minor contributors to the sum of DDT. PAHs were found at higher concentrations than DDTs and ranged between 6 and 36 ng/g dw (S5) and between 36 and 155 ng/g dw (S6). Fluoranthene was predominant (up to 40%), followed by phenantrene (up to 30%), naphthalene (up to 35%), and benzo-(g,h,i)-perylene (up to 23%). The saprobity index and the diatom index increased from springs to river mouth, indicating a decrease in the water quality, but within the limits of moderate pollution. The saprobity index varied between 1.99 at spring to 2.70 at mouth. The diatom index varied from 3.48 to 3.14. The species' richness in phytoplankton has a less clear pattern along the river, but in general, it appears to be negatively influenced by pollution. At the level of biological consumer species, the analyses of the macroinvertebrates confirm the situation and the tendency shown with algae. In addition, the Shannon-Wiener index, the Pielou evenness index, and the McNaughton dominance index indicate a peculiar pattern: invertebrate communities appear to a have a more stable structure along the river, with visible shifts at springs and at river mouths. Water toxicity testing indicates low toxicity of river waters around the city of Iasi, with two notable exceptions: the point pollution at the domestic wastewater treatment discharge and at the old open-air deposit of domestic solid wastes. Another important result was that tested algae appeared to be more readily affected than tested cladoceran: EC(50) (percent effluent) was 16 in algae and 28 in cladocerans. The slope of toxic effect was also much steeper in cladocerans (6) than in algae (1.8), which means that the toxic effect is more sudden on the tested invertebrates than on the tested algae.
Pollutant concentrations reported herein are lower or similar than those reported for the sediments by earlier studies (RIZA 2000; Dragan et al., Int J Environ Anal Chem 86:833-842, 2006). Ratios of individual PAH compounds indicate important pyrolytic inputs and suggest that PAHs in the area are derived from the combustion of fossil fuels. Biologically, the waters appear to be beta-mesosaprobic towards alpha-mesosaprobic according to the saprobic index classification and undergo moderate pollution according to the diatom index classification. Water quality decreases from springs to river mouths. Algal species richness index has a less clear pattern along the river. Water toxicity is low, but certain sources of point pollution require increased attention.
The water quality is better than expected, probably because of the drop in pollution intensity following the collapse of local agricultural and industrial activity following the fall of communism in 1989. Nevertheless, further studies will be needed to confirm and refine our results. While this study draws no strident alarm, it appeals for high attention, particularly because the economic activity in the area is expected to increase.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES
Future close monitoring will be necessary for insuring compliance with the Water Framework Directive, and for refining standards and understanding of the local situation, but with relevance for the wider international community. On the basis of the situation described in the present study, we recommend that future studies dedicate specific efforts to point pollution and effluent toxicity, particularly around the city of Iasi. For a better understanding of pollution and its effects, we recommend pursuing the type of multidisciplinary investigations proposed by the present study: chemical, ecotoxicological, and ecological. We also recommend that new methods should be developed and/or refined, like the empirical determination of partitioning coefficients in water and soils, process-based toxicity methods in ecotoxicological assessments, searching for interactions between pollution, producers, and consumers in aquatic ecosystems. We also recommend preference for cheaper survey methods, as these will be more applicable locally.