Department of Public Health Sciences

BETR North America: a regionally segmented multimedia contaminant fate model for North America

MacLeod M, Woodfine D, Mackay D, McKone T, Bennett D, Maddalena R

Environmental Science and Pollution Research. 2001. 8(3):156-63.

We present the Berkeley-Trent North American contaminant fate model (BETR North America), a regionally segmented multimedia contaminant fate model based on the fugacity concept. The model is built on a framework that links contaminant fate models of individual regions, and is generally applicable to large, spatially heterogeneous areas. The North American environment is modeled as 24 ecological regions, within each region contaminant fate is described using a 7 compartment multimedia fugacity model including a vertically segmented atmosphere, freshwater, freshwater sediment, soil, coastal water and vegetation compartments. Inter-regional transport of contaminants in the atmosphere, freshwater and coastal water is described using a database of hydrological and meteorological data compiled with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) techniques. Steady-state and dynamic solutions to the 168 mass balance equations that make up the linked model for North America are discussed, and an illustrative case study of toxaphene transport from the southern United States to the Great Lakes Basin is presented. Regionally segmented models such as BETR North America can provide a critical link between evaluative models of long-range transport potential and contaminant concentrations observed in remote regions. The continent-scale mass balance calculated by the model provides a sound basis for evaluating long-range transport potential of organic pollutants, and formulation of continent-scale management and regulatory strategies for chemicals.

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