Articles | Volume 11, issue 6
16 Nov 2007
16 Nov 2007

Metal contamination budget at the river basin scale: an original Flux-Flow Analysis (F2A) for the Seine River

L. Lestel, M. Meybeck, and D. R. Thévenot

Abstract. Material flow analysis and environmental contamination analysis are merged into a Flux-Flow analysis (F2A) as illustrated for the metal circulation in the Seine River catchment. F2A combines about 30 metal flows in the anthroposphere (14 million people) and/or metal fluxes in the environment (atmosphere, soils, and aquatic system) originating from two dozens of sources. The nature and quality of data is very heterogeneous going from downscaled national economic statistics to upscaled daily environmental surveys.

A triple integration is performed: space integration over the catchment (65 000 km2), time integration for the 1950–2000 trend analysed at 5 year resolution, and a conceptual integration resulting in two F2A indicators.

Despite the various data sources an average metal circulation is established for the 1994–2003 period and illustrated for zinc: (i) metal circulation in the anthroposphere is now two orders of magnitude higher than river outputs, (ii) long term metal storage, and their potential leaks, in soils, wastedumps and structures is also orders of magnitude higher than present river fluxes. Trend analysis is made through two F2A indicators, the per capita excess load at the river outlet and the leakage ratio (excess fluxes/metal demand). From 1950 to 2000, they both show a ten fold improvement of metal recycling while the metal demand has increased by 2.5 to 5 for Cd, Cu, Cr, Pb and Zn, and the population by 50%.