Contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the Jiulong River Estuary and Western Xiamen Sea, China

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Journal Article
Environmental Pollution, 2002, 118 (1), pp. 109 - 122
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The distribution of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was determined in water, sediment and pore water of the Jiulong River Estuary and Western Xiamen Sea, China. Total PAH concentrations varied from 6.96 to 26.9 μg/l in water, 59-1177 ng/g dry weight in surficial sediments, and 158-949 μg/l in pore water. The PAHs were present in higher levels in pore water than in surface water, due possibly to higher concentrations of dissolved organic carbon or colloids with which the hydrophobic pollutants were strongly associated. Such a concentration gradient implies a potential flux of pollutants from sediment pore water to overlying water. The levels of PAHs in water and pore water were significantly higher than those found in 1998, suggesting recent inputs of these compounds into the area and re-working of sediment phase. The composition pattern of PAHs in the three phases was dominated by high molecular weight PAHs, in particular 5-ring PAHs. The salinity profile of dissolved PAHs suggested that they all behaved non-conservatively due to deviation from the theoretical dilution line. No correlation was found between PAH concentrations in sediment and those in pore water, and the correlation between the partition coefficients of PAHs and sediment organic carbon content was not significant, suggesting the complexity of the partition behaviour of PAHs. As a result of high PAH concentrations in water and pore water, it is likely that they may have caused mortality to certain exposed organisms. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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