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Issue 6, 2007
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Tracing the fate of PCBs in forest ecosystems

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Forests were shown to play an important role in influencing atmospheric concentrations and transport of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the environment. World forests cover more than 4 billion hectares and contain up to 80% of the above ground organic carbon. Given the lipophilic nature of POPs, this suggests that forests can influence the environmental fate of POPs at a global scale. POP accumulation in forest canopies still presents points of concern given the complexity of these ecosystems. In particular, the role of ecological parameters such as LAI (leaf area index) and SLA (specific leaf area) and their dynamics during the growing season was not sufficiently investigated yet. This paper reviews, compares and interprets a unique case study in which air and leaf concentrations and deposition fluxes for selected polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were measured in three different forest types exposed to the same air masses. In order to trace the air–leaf–soil path of these compounds, a dynamic model of POP accumulation into forest canopy was applied. The dynamics of the canopy biomass strongly affected the trend of leaf concentration with time. Growth dilution effect can prevent the more chlorinated compounds from reaching the partitioning equilibrium before litter fall, while the more volatile compounds can approach equilibrium in the range of few weeks. An amount of up to 60 ng of PCBs per square metre of ground surface was predicted to be stored in each of the selected forests at fully developed canopy. Dry gaseous deposition fluxes to forest canopy were estimated to reach a maximum value of about 0.5–1.5 ng m−2 d−1 during the spring period.

Graphical abstract: Tracing the fate of PCBs in forest ecosystems

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Publication details

The article was received on 29 Jan 2007, accepted on 02 May 2007 and first published on 22 May 2007

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B701351E
J. Environ. Monit., 2007,9, 542-549

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    Tracing the fate of PCBs in forest ecosystems

    L. Nizzetto, D. Stroppiana, P. A. Brivio, M. Boschetti and A. Di Guardo, J. Environ. Monit., 2007, 9, 542
    DOI: 10.1039/B701351E

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