Aquatic Distribution And Heterotrophic Degradation Of Polycyclic Aromatic-Hydrocarbons (PAH) In The Tamar Estuary

Readman, JW; Mantoura, RFC; Rhead, MM; Brown, L. 1982 Aquatic Distribution And Heterotrophic Degradation Of Polycyclic Aromatic-Hydrocarbons (PAH) In The Tamar Estuary. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 14 (4). 369 - 389. 10.1016/S0272-7714(82)80009-7

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Abstract/Summary

Variations in the concentrations and microheterotrophic degradation rates of selected Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) in the water column of the Tamar Estuary were investigated in relation to the major environmental variables. Concentrations of individual PAH varied typically between i and 50 ng l−1 Based on their observed environmental behaviour the PAH appeared divisible into two groupings: (1) low molecular weight PAH incorporating naphthalene, phenanthrene and anthracence and (a) the larger molecular weight homologues (fluoranthene, pyrene, chrysene, benz(a)anthracene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, benzo(a)-pyrene). Group 1 PAH showed a complex distribution throughout the estuary with no significant correlations with either salinity or suspended particulates. Based on their relatively low particle affinity and high water solubilities and vapour pressures, volatilization is proposed as an important process in determining their fate. Microheterotrophic turnover times of naphthalene varied between x and 30 days, and were independent of suspended solids with maximum degradation rates located in the central and urban regions of the Estuary. When compared with the flushing times for the Tamar (3–5 days), it is probable that heterotrophic activity is important in the removal of naphthalene (and possibly the other Group 1 PAH) from the estuarine environment. In contrast Group 2 PAH concentrations exhibited highly significant correlations with suspended particulates. Highest concentrations occurred at the turbidity maximum, with a secondary concentration maximum localized to the industrialized portion of the estuary and associated with anthropogenic inputs. Laboratory degradation studies of benzo(a)pyrene in water samples taken from the estuary showed turnover times for the compound of between 2000 and 9000 days. Degradation rates correlated positively with suspended solids. The high particulate affinity and microbial refractivity of Group 2 PAH indicate sediment burial as the principal tate of these PAH in the Tamar Estuary. Estuarine sediments contained typically 50–1500 ng g−1 dry weight of individual PAH which were comparable to the levels of Group 2 PAH associated with the suspended particulates. Highest concentrations occurred at the riverine end of the estuary resulting from unresolved inputs in the catchment. Subsequent dilution by less polluted marine sediments together with slow degradation results in a seaward trend of decreasing concentrations. However, there is a secondary maximum of PAH superimposed on this trend which is associated with urban Plymouth.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Other (PML)
Depositing User: EPServices Admin
Date made live: 11 Feb 2014 15:54
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 16:03
URI: http://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/2701

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