October 19, 2022 by Iain Wilson


Graham, Adam and I are co-authors of the paper Sources of Copper into the European Aquatic Environment, that has just been published in IEAM, along with Sean Comber, Genevieve Deviller, Pasquale Borrelli and Stijn Baken.  The paper presents, for the first time, a source apportionment of all significant point and diffuse sources of copper to the aquatic environment in Europe.

The source apportionment was performed using measured and calculated loads of copper. The articles presents the methodology that could be utilised to perform a similar assessment for other substances. Sectors and activities with emissions to water and land were grouped to provide emission estimates for overall categories, and individual loads were calculated and mapped. For copper it is estimated that 8 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) enter European Union freshwaters, with a further emission of 3.5 ktpa to transitional and marine waters. The major inputs to freshwaters were determined to be from natural processes, agriculture and run-off. Any areas where the emission loads are uncertain also highlighted.

A source apportionment exercise, like this one published here for copper, facilitates the identification of the primary emission routes, areas where further information is required to enhance estimates and allows for cost-efficient targeting of areas for further investigation or monitoring.