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17th December 2020

Natural sources of phenols and mitigation measures to reduce their release into the water environment

This study investigated the current state of knowledge reported in the literature on the sources of natural phenolic compounds; factors that trigger their release into the environment; their risks to water sources and potential mitigation measures to reduce these risks. A potential risk assessment methodology, which assesses the terrestrial sources of phenolic compounds and the potential risk to ground and surface waters was presented. 

The main findings and recommendations from this study are: 

  • Changes in observed DOC concentrations may be used as an indicator of potential changes in the presence of phenolic compounds in surface and groundwaters.
  • Restoring peatlands is one of the key factors of locking carbon in the soil and reducing the release of DOC and phenolic compounds to water sources.
  • There are very few studies on the presence of phenolic compounds in the environment released from natural sources and their subsequent transfer to watercourses. A recommendation from this work would be to carry out a long-term study of the types of DOC and phenolic compounds in Scottish drinking water catchments. This would provide up to date data to validate the risk assessment developed in this project, and also to better understand the potential drivers of the release of phenolic compounds and their transfer in Scottish drinking water catchments.