Rebmobilization of pollutants during floods

05/08/2021
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In addition to the direct consequences of a flood resulting from the inundation of the affected areas, there may be further, indirect consequences, especially during extreme events. The ecological, economic and social consequences that follow from the remobilization of pollutants and their dispersion during floods have hardly been considered so far.

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German-Canadian research on pollutant propagation during floods

In a review article, a team of researchers from Germany and Canada explored the processes and consequences of contaminant remobilization during flood events. Especially fine sediments can be transported in the form of suspended solids during floods. These fine sediments can sometimes contain harmful chemicals that have been released into the environment and deposited there as a result of past land and water use. If these old sediment layers are remobilized by a flood, the pollutants also re-enter the river ecosystem.

The assessment of contaminated sediments in coastal and inland waters, as well as their resistance to erosion and the bioavailability of the resuspended contaminants, is essential to better assess the risk to humans and the environment from flooding. The article by the German and Canadian scientists provides initial guidance for this assessment.

Published in

Journal of Hazardous Materials, Volume 421

"Remobilization of pollutants during extreme flood events poses severe risks to human and environmental health" von Sarah E. Crawford, Markus Brinkmann, Jacob D. Ouellet, Frank Lehmkuhl, Klaus Reicherter, Jan Schwarzbauer, Piero Bellanova, Peter Letmathe, Lars M. Blank, Roland Weber, Werner Brack, Joost T. van Dongen, Lucas Menzel, Markus Hecker, Holger Schüttrumpf and Henner Hollert, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.126691.