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Mixtures of sediment chemical contaminants at freshwater sampling sites across Europe with different contaminant burdens

Richardson, Samantha; Mayes, Will M.; Faetsch, Sonja; Hetjens, Hanne; Teuchies, Johnny; Walker, Paul; Heitmann, Katharina; Welham, Kevin; Moore, Dean; Bervoets, Lieven; Kay, Paul; Duffus, Wayne; Smith, Nick; De Cooman, Ward; Elst, Raf; Ryken, Els; Rotchell, Jeanette M.; Heise, Susanne


Sonja Faetsch

Hanne Hetjens

Johnny Teuchies

Paul Walker

Katharina Heitmann

Kevin Welham

Dean Moore

Lieven Bervoets

Paul Kay

Wayne Duffus

Nick Smith

Ward De Cooman

Raf Elst

Els Ryken

Susanne Heise


Extended chemical analyses of fluvial sediments were undertaken to establish the key pollutant pressures and mixtures present across nine European Union inland waterways. A wide range of chemical components and physical parameters were investigated including substances from the EU Priority List and Watch List. The data set was examined for key indicator compounds, however it was found that a wide range of pollution pressures were present in the different sediments including organic hydrocarbons, metal(loid)s, nutrients, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) compounds, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and pesticides, some of which exceeded regulatory guidance at different sampling points. The presence of such a wide range of compounds underpins the complex chemical composition of sediments that have acted as sinks for many decades absorbing contaminants from urban, industrial and agricultural sources. This dataset has been used to describe average overall toxicity of the sediments sampled, a calculation which was based on key components identified by Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and for those that had existing freshwater sediment regulatory values. A total of 33 components were used including PCBs, PAHs, metal(iod)s and pesticides. This analysis reflected the contamination of each site, with most indicating some level of toxicity during the sampling period. Watch List chemicals triclosan (TCS) and diclofenac (DIC) were also investigated; levels were relatively low, typically 10–100's ng L−1, however they were present at all sampling sites. The dataset is available as a resource for future chemical, and toxicological, sediment analysis comparisons.


Richardson, S., Mayes, W. M., Faetsch, S., Hetjens, H., Teuchies, J., Walker, P., …Heise, S. (2023). Mixtures of sediment chemical contaminants at freshwater sampling sites across Europe with different contaminant burdens. The Science of the total environment, 891, Article 164280.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 15, 2023
Online Publication Date Jun 2, 2023
Publication Date Sep 15, 2023
Deposit Date Jun 21, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jun 3, 2024
Journal Science of the Total Environment
Print ISSN 0048-9697
Electronic ISSN 1879-1026
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 891
Article Number 164280
Keywords Emerging contaminants; Fresh-water sediment monitoring; Chemical mixtures; Forever chemicals
Public URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Mixtures of sediment chemical contaminants at freshwater sampling sites across Europe with different contaminant burdens; Journal Title: Science of The Total Environment; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2023 Published by Elsevier B.V.