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Issue 10, 2007
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The environmental behaviour of polychlorinated phenols and its relevance to cork forest ecosystems: a review

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Abstract

Pentachlorophenol (PCP) has been used as a herbicide, biocide and preservative worldwide since the 1930s and as a result, extensive and prolonged contamination exists. The environmental impact increases when its many degradation products are taken into consideration. A number of chloroanisols and their related chlorophenols have been found in cork slabs collected from Portuguese oak tree forests before stopper manufacturing, and contamination by PCP and polychlorinated anisole (PCA) has been detected in Canadian forests. It is suggested that the use of polychlorinated phenols, in particular PCP, is thought to be a cause of the cork taint problem in wine, a major socio-economic impact not only for industry but on sensitive and highly biodiverse ecosystems. It also highlights particular issues relating to the regional regulation of potentially toxic chemicals and global economics world wide. To fully understand the impact of contamination sources, the mechanisms responsible for the fate and transport of PCP and its degradation products and assessment of their environmental behaviour is required. This review looks at the current state of knowledge of soil sorption, fate and bioavailability and identifies the challenges of degradation product identification and the contradictory evidence from field and laboratory observations. The need for a systematic evaluation of PCP contamination in relation to cork forest ecosystems and transfer of PCP between trophic levels is emphasised by discrepancies in bioaccumulation and toxicity. This is essential to enable long term management of not only transboundary contaminants, but also the sustainable management of socially and economically important forest ecosystems.

Graphical abstract: The environmental behaviour of polychlorinated phenols and its relevance to cork forest ecosystems: a review

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Publication details

The article was received on 30 Jan 2007, accepted on 08 Jun 2007 and first published on 06 Jul 2007


Article type: Critical Review
DOI: 10.1039/B701436H
Citation: J. Environ. Monit., 2007,9, 1055-1063
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    The environmental behaviour of polychlorinated phenols and its relevance to cork forest ecosystems: a review

    I. McLellan, M. Carvalho, C. Silva Pereira, A. Hursthouse, C. Morrison, P. Tatner, I. Martins, M. V. San Romão and M. Leitão, J. Environ. Monit., 2007, 9, 1055
    DOI: 10.1039/B701436H

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