Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs) soil contamination in Lausanne, Switzerland: Combining pollution mapping and human exposure assessment for targeted risk management


In December 2020, high soil concentrations of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs) were discovered across large parts of Lausanne, Switzerland. Concentrations reached up to 640 ng TEQWHO-2005/kg dry weight. The most likely source was a former municipal waste incinerator. A three-step, multidisciplinary approach to human health risk assessment was conducted to determine the potential population exposure to PCDD/Fs and identify appropriate preventive measures. First, exposure scenarios were developed based on contaminated land uses. Second, the toxicological risks of different scenarios were evaluated using a toxicokinetic model estimating increases in blood serum PCDD/F concentrations over background concentrations from the general population’s food consumption. Third, a detailed geostatistical mapping of PCDD/F soil contamination was performed. Stochastic simulations with an external drift and an anisotropic model of the variogram were generated to incorporate the effects of distance from emission source, topography, and main wind directions on the spatial distribution of PCDD/Fs in topsoil. Three main scenarios were assessed: i) direct ingestion of soil by children in playgrounds; ii) consumption of vegetables from private gardens by children and adults; and iii) consumption of food from livestock and poultry raised on contaminated soil. The worst exposure scenario involved the consumption of eggs from private hen houses, resulting in PCDD/F concentrations in serum an order of magnitude higher than might normally be expected. No relevant increases in serum concentrations were calculated for direct soil ingestion and vegetable consumption, except for cucurbitaceous vegetables. Combining mapping and exposure scenario assessment resulted in targeted protective measures for land users, especially concerning food consumption. The results also raised concerns about the potential unsafe consumption of products derived from animals raised on land with PCDD/F concentrations only moderately over environmental background levels.

Authors: David Vernez, Christelle Oltramare, Baptiste Sauvaget, Hélène Demougeot-Renard, Lothar Aicher, Nicolas Roth, Isabelle Rossi, Arianna Radaelli, Sylvain Lerch, Vincent Marolf, Aurélie Berthet
; Full Source: Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) 2022 Oct 29;316(Pt 1):120441. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.120441.