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Emissions of heavy metals and lindane into river basins of Germany

Research report 200 22 233, UBA-FB 000328e
: Fuchs, S.; Scherer, U.; Hillenbrand, T.; Marscheider-Weidemann, F.; Behrendt, H.; Opitz, D.

Berlin: Umweltbundesamt, 2002, 166 pp.
Umweltforschungsplan des Bundesministers für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit; Texte - Umweltbundesamt, 55/02
Fraunhofer ISI ()
heavy metal; arsenic; cadmium; chromium; copper; mercury; lead; nickel; zinc; lindane; diffuse emission; tile drainage; erosion; groundwater; surface runoff; atmospheric deposition; MWWTP; industrial direct discharge; river basin

According to international agreements, encouraging all partners to diminish the emission of priority pollutants into North- and Baltic Sea significantly within a time period of 1985 to 2000, the aim of this project was to quantify the changes in the emission situation for both heavy metals and lindane within the mentioned period.
To reach this aim the total emissions of heavy metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, Zn) and the pesticide lindane ( y-HCH) into the German river systems were quantified for the periods of 1983-1985, 1993-1995 and 1999/2000.
For the quantification of the emissions via point sources a nation-wide survey on heavy metal data of municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial direct discharges was carried out. The input via diffuse pathways was calculated using an adapted version of the model MONERIS. This model accounts for the significant transport processes, and it includes a Geographical Information System (GIS) that provides digital maps as well as extensive statistical information.
For a comparison of the calculated heavy metal emission with the measured heavy metal load at monitoring stations the losses of heavy metals due to retention processes within the river systems have to be considered. Therefore heavy metal retention was calculated according to the retention function given by Vink/Behrendt (2002). For the large river basins a good correspondence could be found between estimated and measured heavy metal loads in rivers.
The total emission into the German river basins decreased for each metal during the period of 1985 to 2000. The reduction varies between 36 and 85 % mainly caused by the decline of emissions via point sources. Today's emissions of heavy metals into river basins of Germany are dominated by the input via diffuse pathways. The most important diffuse pathways are paved urban areas (Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb, Zn), erosion (Pb, Cr) and groundwater (As, Ni).
Since the application of the pesticide lindane is illegal today a reduction of lindane input of 67 % was achieved for Germany within the period of 1985 - 1999/2000. Nevertheless there are significant emissions of lindane via diffuse pathways into German river systems due to the persistence of lindane in the environment.