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Industrial organic contaminants: identification, toxicity and fate in the environment

Dsikowitzky, Larissa, Schwarzbauer, Jan
Environmental chemistry letters 2014 v.12 no.3 pp. 371-386
bioaccumulation, chemical composition, developed countries, developing countries, environmental fate, environmental impact, field experimentation, industrialization, industry, pollution, sediments, surveys, toxicity, urbanization, wastewater, water resources
Industrialization and urbanization in the more economically developed countries and also in emerging and developing nations have led to an intensive and still increasing use of water resources. The involved chemical contamination led to a deterioration of aquatic systems in many areas. Industries are important pollution sources and the discharged wastewaters may contain very diverse and potentially harmful organic compound groups. We therefore present here a comprehensive review of the current state of knowledge of organic contaminants from industrial wastewaters. The available studies proved the heterogenic chemical composition of industrial wastewaters, even from the same industry branches, and the presence of heterogenic organic contaminant mixtures from industrial sources in aquatic systems. We conclude that our knowledge of the chemical composition of industrial wastewaters and the occurrence of industrial organic contaminants in the environment is as yet very limited. A combination of chemical and toxicological methods enabled the identification of toxic organic constituents in industrial wastewaters. Chemical evaluations of industrial contamination linked to surveys of environmental impacts could relate toxic effects of field samples to the presence of specific contaminants. Exposure experiments in the field proved the bioaccumulation and toxicity of several industrial compounds. Ecological surveys in industrial areas combined with a comprehensive chemical characterization and toxicity evaluation are so far missing. Some of the identified organic contaminants are related to characteristic industrial production processes, and their presence in water, sediment or biota indicates the input of specific industrial wastewaters. Accordingly, these compounds can be used as industrial markers. We suggest the proceeding application of the marker concept, as markers are useful to verify the input of specific industrial wastewaters to aquatic systems and to investigate the spatial distribution of the emission. Such information helps to disentangle different emission sources for the subsequent investigation of potential impacts in the environment.