A dynamic or level IV multimedia model is described and illustrated by application to the fate of three polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners in the United Kingdom over a 60-year period from their introduction into commerce until the present. Models of this type are shown to be valuable for elucidating the time response of environmental systems to increasing, decreasing, or pulse inputs. The suggestion is made that in addition to the outputs of time-dependent concentrations (which can be compared with monitoring data for validation purposes), it is useful to examine masses, fugacities, and fugacity ratios between media. The relative importance of processes is best evaluated by compiling cumulative intermedia fluxes and quantities lost by reaction and advection and examining the corresponding process rate constants or their reciprocals, the characteristic times. The suggestion is made that uncertainty and sensitivity analyses are desirable, but it must be appreciated that relative sensitivities of input parameters may change during the simulation period, so a single sensitivity analysis conducted at one point in time can be misleading. The use of the model for forecasting future trends in concentration is illustrated. Given the uncertainties in emission and advective inflow rates, the simulation of PCB fate in the United Kingdom is regarded as showing time trends that are in satisfactory agreement with monitoring data.
This study was carried out with funding from Defra to support the UK's obligations under International chemicals regulations. AJS carried out the majority of the research with collaboration from a Canadian group who provided technical guidance. RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences