|Priority volatile organic compounds in surface waters of the southern North Sea|In: Environmental Pollution. Elsevier: Barking. ISSN 0269-7491, more
Volatile organic compounds; Chlorinated short-chain hydrocarbons; Monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Chlorinated monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; North Sea; Quality assurance; Quality control; Censored data; Time-trends
The occurrence of 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was studied from April 1998 to October 2000 in the southern North Sea. Target VOCs were selected from lists of priority pollutants for the marine environment and included, e.g., chlorinated short-chain hydrocarbons (CHCs), monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (MAHs), and chlorinated monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (CMAHs). Water samples were taken from the Channel, the Belgian Continental Shelf, the mouth of the Scheldt estuary and the Southern Bight, and were analysed by purge-and-trap and high-resolution gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. All data were produced by analyses deemed ‘in control’ by a rigorous quality assurance/quality control program provided by QUASIMEME (Quality Assurance of Information for Marine Environmental Monitoring in Europe). Chloroform and trichloroethene were commonly detected at concentrations up to 1900 and 270 ng l-1, respectively. The other CHCs were generally found below 5 ng l-1, and rarely exceeded 10 ng l-1. Concentrations of MAHs were at least one order of magnitude higher than those of the CHCs. The higher levels were attributed to anthropogenic emissions from oil-related activities in coastal areas. CMAHs, except chlorobenzene and 1,4-dichlorobenzene, were hardly detected in North Sea waters. The levels of several CHCs and MAHs were shown to decrease compared to previous investigations in 1994–1995, probably as a result of on-going emission reduction efforts. The occurrence of 1,1,1-trichloroethane, for instance, was substantially reduced since the Montreal Protocol was implemented in 1995.