Baseline levels and trophic transfer of persistent organic pollutants in sediments and biota from the Congo River Basin (DR Congo)

Verhaert, Vera, Covaci, Adrian, Bouillon, Steven, Abrantes, Katya, Musibono, Dieudonné, Bervoets, Lieven, Verheyen, Erik, and Blust, Ronny (2013) Baseline levels and trophic transfer of persistent organic pollutants in sediments and biota from the Congo River Basin (DR Congo). Environment International, 59. pp. 290-302.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


The present study aimed to evaluate the occurrence of persistent organic pollutants (POPs: (PCBs, PBDEs,DDTs, HCHs, CHLs and HCB) in sediments and biota from the middle Congo River Basin (CRB) and to investigate their trophic transfer through the aquatic food web using nitrogen stable isotope ratios. To our knowledge, no data on levels of POPs in sediment and biota from the CRB are present in the literature, and studies on trophic transfer and biomagnification profiles of POPs using δ15N are scarce in tropical regions.

POP levels in the sediment and biota were low, with exception of total PCB levels found in fish from the Itimbiri River (1.4 to 44 ng/g ww). Compared to concentrations found in fish from pristine to relatively industrial developed areas, the ΣPCB levels in fish from the Itimbiri were high, indicating the presence of a local PCB contamination source in this catchment. Based on minimum risk level criteria formulated by ATSDR, the consumption of PCB contaminated fish from the Itimbiri river poses a potential risk for humans.

The POP levels in biota were not significantly related to the POP levels in sediments, and the BSAF concept (Biota-Sediment Accumulation Factor) was found to be a poor predictor of the bioavailability and bioaccumulation of environmental pollutants in the present study. With increasing trophic levels, a significant increase in PCB 95, 101, 110, 138, 146, 149, 153, 174, 180 & 187 and p,p′-DDT in Itimbiri and BDE 47 & 99 in Itimbiri, Aruwimi & Lomami river basins was observed. Trophic magnification factors were higher than 1, indicating that biomagnification occurs through the tropical food web.

Item ID: 31844
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-6750
Keywords: Congo River Basin, persistent organic pollutants, bioaccumulation, trophic transfer, trophic magnification factors
Funders: Belgian Development Cooperation, Belgian Science Policy (BSP), National Lottery, Research Scientific Foundation–Flanders (FWO), European Commission (EC)
Projects and Grants: BSP Boyekoli-Ebale-Congo Expedition, BSP SSD-COBAFISH, FWO (, EC EU-FP7 Marie-Curie
Date Deposited: 14 May 2014 00:31
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060204 Freshwater Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960807 Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page