Emissions from Building Materials - A Threat to the Environment?

A large variety of substances are used in building materials to improve their properties. In recent years, attention to organic additives used, for example, in renders, façade paints or roof sealing sheets has increased as these compounds have been detected in urban stormwater runoff and surface waters. In this paper, we show the extent of emissions induced by rain events in two study sites in Berlin. For this purpose, stormwater runoff from roofs, façades, and in storm sewers was sampled and analysed over a period of 1.5 years in two residential catchments. Results show that, in particular, the biocides diuron and terbutryn from façades, the root protection agents mecoprop and MCPA in bituminous sheeting, and zinc from roofs and façades reach concentrations in the stormwater sewer that exceed limit values for surface waters. Additionally, transformation products of the biocides were also detected. However, many other analysed substances were below the quantification limit or inconspicuous in their concentration levels. The emissions, modelled with the software COMLEAM, demonstrate that in urban areas the limit values in smaller surface waters are exceeded during wet weather. Furthermore, the orientation of the buildings to wind-driven rain is essential for the emitted load from façades. The calculated mass balances of both catchments show that a major portion of all substances remains on-site and infiltrates diffusely or in swales, while the remaining portion is discharged to stormwater sewers. For example, in one of the two study sites, <5% of diuron emissions are discharged to surface waters. Infiltration, in particular, is therefore a crucial pathway of pollution for soil and groundwater. Measures for source control are proposed to mitigate the leaching of environmentally relevant substances from construction materials.

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