Behaviour of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in dissolved, colloidal, and particulate phases in sedimentary cores

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Journal Article
International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, 2007, 87 (3), pp. 211 - 225
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Solid-phase microextraction (SPME) has been successfully used for extracting polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from porewater samples from the Mersey Estuary, UK. The majority of the PAHs in porewater samples are associated with colloids due to the high DOC concentrations. The truly dissolved PAH concentrations varied from 66 to 1050 ng L-1 in core 2 and from 95 to 740 ng L-1 in core 3, and were dominated by naphthalene, fluoranthene, and pyrene. Although absent in the dissolved phase, the high-molecular-mass compounds were found in the colloid-associated fraction of porewater. PAHs in sediments arose from a range of compounds with 4- and 5-ring PAHs dominating. The partitioning of PAHs between sediment and porewater shows that PAHs are enriched in the sediment phase. When the soot carbon content was considered, predictions of the partition behaviour were found to agree more closely with the observed distribution. The results reiterate the importance of evaluating the speciation of organic pollutants in both porewater and sediments in order to accurately predict their environmental fate and potential toxicity. © 2007 Taylor & Francis.
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