Occurrences, sources and risk assessment of short- and medium-chain chlorinated paraffins in sediments from the middle reaches of the Yellow River, China
Chlorinated paraffins (CPs), one class of hydrophobic and toxic compounds, are easily adsorbed into sediments and then pose potential risks to the ecosystem and human health. However, few researches on short- and medium-chain CPs (SCCPs and MCCPs) in sediments have been performed. In order to comprehensively investigate the spatial distributions, sources, and ecological risks of CPs, sediments collected from the middle reaches of the Yellow River were analyzed by two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC × GC–TOFMS). The concentrations of SCCPs and MCCPs ranged from 11.6 to 9.76 × 103 ng/g dry weight (dw) and from 8.33 to 168 ng/g dw, respectively. No significant correlation was found between total organic carbon (TOC) and CP concentrations (P > 0.05). The spatial distributions showed that contamination levels of CPs were relevant to human activities. In addition, two types of sediment samples were classified by hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) and results indicated the predominant congener groups were C10Cl6–7 for SCCPs and C14Cl7–8 for MCCPs. Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that SCCPs and MCCPs in the sediments may have different sources, and SCCPs are likely to come from the production and use of CP-42 and CP-52. Moreover, complex environmental processes, including long-range transportation via the atmosphere and/or river, deposition and degradation of CPs, resulted in increased abundances of short chain and low chlorinated congeners in sediment samples compared with commercial mixtures, and different homolog patterns among samples. The significant negative correlation between SCCP concentrations and MCCP/SCCP ratios could be related to long-range transport of CPs. A preliminary risk assessment indicated that CPs at current levels posed no significant ecological risk.