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Sources and Trends of Persistent Organic Pollutants at Three Passive Monitoring Sites in South Africa

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Document pages: 12 pages

Abstract: The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (SCPOPs) is an international treaty that operates under the patronage of the United Nations (UN) to control certain chemicals that are considered persistent organic pollutants (POPs). They are of great concern because of their adverse effects on human health and the environment. Exposure to POPs may lead to cancer, infertility, respiratory infections, and other health complications. It is therefore critical to study the degree of human and environmental exposure to these POPs. Passive air sampling was conducted in South Africa to evaluate the presence and trends of persistent organic pollutants at Barberspan (rural agricultural), Vanderbijl Park (urban industrial) and Molopo Nature Reserve (isolated nature reserve). Samples were collected in 2012. Passive air samplers using poly were used for sampling. The Buchi System B-811 automatic extractor was used to analyze for dichloro-diphenyl-trichlorethane (DDT), pentachlorobenzene (PeCB), hexechlorobenzene (HCB) polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH). Sampling was conducted for a period of one year. POPs concentrations were generally low at all sites, but Vanderbijl Park had the highest concentrations. Seasonal changes in concentrations were much the same at the three sites with temperatures and wind patterns being major factors. The presence of these chemicals in Molopo Nature Reserve and Barberspan is evidence of long range transportation over dry semi desert areas. Back-trajectories indicate possible sources, including areas where DDT is used for malaria control. The presence of POPs is areas they have never been in use poses health and environmental risks in these areas.

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