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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: data description paper 11 Nov 2019

Submitted as: data description paper | 11 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).

Spatio-temporal assessment of the PCB sediment contamination in the four main French River Basins (1945–2018)

André-Marie Dendievel1, Brice Mourier1, Alexandra Coynel2, Olivier Evrard3, Pierre Labadie2, Sophie Ayrault3, Maxime Debret4, Florence Koltalo5, Yoann Copard4, Quentin Faivre6, Thomas Gardes4, Sophia Vauclin1, Hélène Budzinski2, Cécile Grosbois6, Thierry Winiarski1, and Marc Desmet6 André-Marie Dendievel et al.
  • 1Univ. Lyon, ENTPE, UMR CNRS 5023 LEHNA-IPE, Vaulx-en-Velin, 69120, France
  • 2Université de Bordeaux, UMR CNRS 5805 EPOC, Bordeaux, 33615, France
  • 3Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, UMR CNRS 8212 LSCE, Gif-sur-Yvette, 91191, France
  • 4Université de Rouen Normandie, UMR CNRS 6143 M2C, Mont-Saint-Aignan, 76821, France
  • 5Université de Rouen Normandie, UMR CNRS 6014 COBRA, Mont-Saint-Aignan, 76821, France
  • 6Université de Tours, EA 6293 GEHCO, Tours, 37200, France

Abstract. Environmental pollution by Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) is a key concern about river quality because of their low degradation rates leading to their accumulation in sediments or living organisms. This original interdisciplinary work was conducted at a large scale along the four main French rivers (Seine, Rhône, Loire and Garonne Rivers), which flow into major European seas. We completed a dataset based on sediment analyses provided by monitoring agencies, port authorities and research teams on different solid matrices (cores, bed and flood sediments, suspended particulate matters, dredged sediments). This dataset (n=1416) focused on the seven indicator PCBs and their sum (∑PCBi) from 1945 to 2018. Special effort was put on the quality control to provide robust spatio-temporal information. Taking into account hydrological and human drivers, we outlined two main pollution trends: (1) from 1945 to 1975, a quick increase of ∑PCBi (up to 4−1 dry weight, dw) and a sharp decrease in the 1980s on the Seine and Loire Rivers; (2) increasing but moderate ∑PCBi levels (50 to 150 µ−1 dw) followed by a decline after the 1990s on the Rhône and Garonne Rivers. In addition to these patterns, PCBs emissions from urban and industrial areas or accidental events were significant on each river. Finally, when calculating specific fluxes, the Rhône River exhibited the biggest ∑PCBi load (up to 12 µg.m−2.year−1 in 1977–1987), at least 25 % higher than those of the Seine and Loire Rivers, while the Garonne River showed very low fluxes. French specific ∑PCBi fluxes are two orders of magnitude lower than those found in American or Asian Rivers. In Europe, we confirmed that the Rhone and Seine Rivers provide a major supply of PCBi to the Western Mediterranean and the English Channel, respectively. The dataset is available at

André-Marie Dendievel et al.
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André-Marie Dendievel et al.
Data sets

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) indicators in sediments from the main French Rivers from 1945 to 2018 (Garonne, Loire, Rhône, Seine) Dendievel, André-Marie; Mourier, Brice; Desmet, Marc; Coynel, Alexandra; Labadie, Pierre; Ayrault, Sophie; Budzinski, Hélène; Debret, Maxime; Evrard, Olivier; Gardes, Thomas; Vauclin, Sophia; Grosbois, Cécile; Winiarski, Thierry

André-Marie Dendievel et al.
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Short summary
A dataset of PCBi data from sediment cores, bed and flood deposits, suspended particulate matters and dredged sediments on the main French rivers (source–estuary transects; 1945–2018) is compared with socio-hydrological drivers. PCBi concentrations increased from 1945 to the 1990s, due to urban or industrial emissions. It decreased with the implementation of regulation. Computed specific PCBi fluxes confirmed the dispersion of heavily polluted sediments by the French Rivers in European Seas.
A dataset of PCBi data from sediment cores, bed and flood deposits, suspended particulate...