The environmental behaviour of polychlorinated phenols and its relevance to cork forest ecosystems: a review

Iain McLellan, Mariana Carvalho, Cristina Silva Pereira, Andrew Hursthouse, Calum Morrison, Paul Tatner, Isabel Martins, M.Vitoria San Romao, Maria Leitao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Pentachlorophenol (PCP) has been used as a herbicide, biocide and preservative worldwide since the 1930s and as a result, extensive and prolonged contamination exists. The environmental impact increases when its many degradation products are taken into consideration. A number of chloroanisols and their related chlorophenols have been found in cork slabs collected from
Portuguese oak tree forests before stopper manufacturing, and contamination by PCP and polychlorinated anisole (PCA) has been detected in Canadian forests. It is suggested that the use of polychlorinated phenols, in particular PCP, is thought to be a cause of the cork taint problem in wine, a major socio-economic impact not only for industry but on sensitive and highly
biodiverse ecosystems. It also highlights particular issues relating to the regional regulation of potentially toxic chemicals and global economics world wide. To fully understand the impact of contamination sources, the mechanisms responsible for the fate and transport of PCP and its degradation products and assessment of their environmental behaviour is required. This review looks at the current state of knowledge of soil sorption, fate and bioavailability and identifies the challenges of degradation product identification and the contradictory evidence from field and laboratory observations. The need for a systematic evaluation of PCP contamination in relation to cork forest ecosystems and transfer of PCP between trophic levels is emphasised by
discrepancies in bioaccumulation and toxicity. This is essential to enable long term management of not only transboundary contaminants, but also the sustainable management of socially and economically important forest ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1063
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2007


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