abstract:Persistent organic pollutants, POPs (e.g., polychlorinated biphenyls) can seriously and deleteriously affect environmental quality and human health. These organic pollutants are exhibiting high affinities to solid phases and thus, quickly end up in sediments. To better understand the role of carbonaceous materials in the transport and distributions of POPs in terrestrial and near-shore environments, concentrations of PCBs and carbonaceous materials (including total organic carbon, black carbon and total carbohydrates), were determined in surface sediments of the Danshui River and nearby coastal areas, Taiwan. Total concentrations of PCBs in the sediments ranged from non-detectable to 83.9 ng g−1, dry weight, with the maximum value detected near the discharge point of the marine outfall from the Pali Sewage Treatment Plant. These results suggest that the sewage treatment plant has discharged PCBs in the past and the concentrations are still high due to their persistence; alternatively, PCBs are still being discharged in the estuarine and near-shore environment of the Danshui River. Organic carbon and black carbon concentrations correlated well with those of total PCBs in the sediments, suggesting that both organic carbon and black carbon significantly affect the distribution of trace organic pollutants through either post-depositional adsorption, or by co-transport of similar source materials. The field results demonstrate that black carbon and plays an important role in the general distribution of PCBs, while concentrations of some specific PCBs are affected by both black carbon and organic carbon concentrations.