Assessment of input of organic micropollutants and microplastics into the Baltic Sea by urban waters

Ulla E. Bollmann, M. Simon, Jes Vollertsen, Kai Bester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


We assess how different micropollutants and microplastics, connected to wastewater are introduced into the Baltic Sea. The relevance of untreated wastewater, treated wastewater, treated and untreated rain runoff, as well as combined sewer overflow (CSO), is assessed in respect to mass balance, as well as relative inflows of micropollutants and -plastics into the Baltic Sea. To achieve this, modelling based on data on exemplary sewer systems and measured micropollutant concentrations in the single sources were used. Most compounds reach the receiving Baltic Sea via treated wastewater. A few exceptions are compounds that are removed to a very high extent in wastewater treatment plants. For these compounds, the emissions with stormwater (e.g., terbutryn) or untreated wastewater (e.g., triclosan) are dominating. Additionally, compounds that are discharged with the water that is running off urban surfaces are introduced into marine areas via rain runoff. These data are used to forecast a total mass load and concentrations that can be expected in the Baltic Sea. Massloads are expected to be between 0.1 and 5.9 t/a for triclosan and TCPP (tris (2-chloropropyl) phosphate) and 0.2 t/a for microplastic particles. The expected concentrations in open Baltic Sea waters range from 0.01 to 26 ng/L.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-155
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Combined sewer overflows
  • Flame-retardants
  • Microplastic particles
  • Personal care compounds
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Stormwater runoff
  • Wastewater

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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