Decreasing boron concentrations in UK rivers: Insights into reductions in detergent formulations since the 1990s and within-catchment storage issues

Neal, Colin; Williams, Richard J.; Bowes, Michael J. ORCID:; Harrass, Michael C.; Neal, Margaret; Rowland, Philip; Wickham, Heather; Thacker, Sarah; Harman, Sarah; Vincent, Colin; Jarvie, Helen P.. 2010 Decreasing boron concentrations in UK rivers: Insights into reductions in detergent formulations since the 1990s and within-catchment storage issues. Science of the Total Environment, 408 (6). 1374-1385.

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The changing patterns of riverine boron concentration are examined for the Thames catchment in southern southeastern England using data from 1997 to 2007. Boron concentrations are related to an independent 28 marker for sewage effluent, sodium. The results show that boron concentrations in the main river channels have declined with time especially under baseflow conditions when sewage effluent dilution potential is at its lowest. While boron concentrations have reduced, especially under low-flow conditions, this does not fully translate to a corresponding reduction in boron flux and it seems that the “within-catchment” supplies of boron to the river are contaminated by urban sources. The estimated boron reduction in the effluent input to the river based on the changes in river chemistry is typically around 60% and this figure matches with an initial survey of more limited data for the industrial north of England. Data for effluent concentrations at eight sewage treatment works within the Kennet also indicate substantial reductions in boron concentrations: 80% reduction occurred between 2001 and 2008. For the more contaminated rivers there are issues of localised rather than catchment-wide sources and uncertainties over the extent and nature of water/boron stores. Atmospheric sources average around 32 to 61% for the cleaner and 4 to 14% for the more polluted parts. The substantial decreases in the boron concentrations correspond extremely well with the timing and extent of European wide trends for reductions in the industrial and domestic usage of boron-bearing compounds. It clearly indicates that such reductions have translated into lower average and peak concentrations of boron in the river although the full extent of these reductions has probably not yet occurred due to localised stores that are still to deplete

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 1 - Variability and Change in Water Systems > WA - 1.2 - Quantify variability and departures from natural historical variability in water quality ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 2 - Biogeochemistry and Climate System Processes > BGC - 2.1 - Quantify & model processes that control the emission, fate and bioavailability of pollutants
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 1 - Monitoring and Interpretation of Biogeochemical and Climate Changes > BGC - 1.1 - Monitor concentrations, fluxes, physico-chemical forms of current and emerging pollutants ...
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
Boorman (to September 2014)
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: Thames, Lois, Humber, Ribble, Boron, Sodium, Sewage, Detergent
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 03 Feb 2010 09:24 +0 (UTC)

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