Fluxes of organic contaminants from the river catchment into, through and out of the Humber Estuary, UK

J. L. Zhou*, T. W. Fileman, W. A. House, J. L A Long, R. F C Mantoura, A. A. Meharg, D. Osborn, J. Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This paper summarises the work done on the distribution and reactivity of organic contaminants (simazine, atrazine, lindane, fluoranthene, pyrene, PCB 77, PCB 118) in the Humber Estuary and associated major rivers, as part of the LOIS programme. The preliminary flux calculations show that the most important contributors of selected organic contaminants were the rivers Trent (45% of simazine, 20% of atrazine), Aire (30% of simazine and 33% of atrazine), Don (36 and 37% of fluoranthene and pyrene) and Ouse (18% of fluoranthene and pyrene). For lindane and PCBs, the Aire and Ouse were the key sources. The water flow in all the rivers shows strong seasonal variations, as do the contaminant concentrations. As a result, the mean daily fluxes of these contaminants displayed a strong seasonality. Annual mean concentrations of simazine and atrazine decreased by more than 50% over the period 1994-1995 in most of the rivers, probably as a result of their restricted use in the UK. Mass balance calculations show that the Humber is a sink for atrazine, lindane, PCB 77 and PCB 118, although the degree of removal is generally much lower for atrazine and lindane than for PCB 77 and PCB 118. Mass balance results also show that the Humber can either be a source of fluoranthene and pyrene (in the suspended particulate phase), or a sink (in the dissolved phase), although overall the Humber acts as sink. The budget exercise represents an attempt to quantify the input and output of selected organic contaminants from catchment to ocean. However, due to limited data and assumptions involved in calculations, the estimates should be considered as an order of magnitude approximation. Further improvement both in resolution and accuracy is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-342
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number3-7
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Herbicides
  • LOIS
  • Mass balance
  • Organic contaminants
  • PAHs
  • PCBs
  • Riverine inputs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography
  • Pollution


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