The distribution and sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in surface sediments along the Egyptian Mediterranean coast

Ahmed El Nemr, Tarek O Said, Azza Khaled, Amany El-Sikaily, Aly M A Abd-Allah
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 2007, 124 (1-3): 343-59
Coastal marine sediment samples were collected from 31 sampling stations along the Egyptian Mediterranean Sea coast. All sediment samples were analyzed to determine aliphatic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as well as total organic carbon (TOC) contents and grain size analysis. Total concentrations of 16 EPA-PAHs in the sediments were varied from 88 to 6338 ng g(-1) with an average value of 154 ng g(-1) (dry weight). However, the concentrations of total aliphatic were varied from 1.3 to 69.9 ng g(-1) with an average value of 15.6 ng g(-1) (dry weight). The highest contents of PAHs were found in the Eastern harbor (6338 ng g(-1)), Manzala (5206 ng g(-1)) and El-Jamil East (4895 ng g(-1)) locations. Good correlations observed between a certain numbers of PAH concentrations allowed to identify its origin. The average total organic carbon (TOC) percent was varied from 0.91 to 4.54%. Higher concentration of total pyrolytic hydrocarbons ( summation operatorCOMB) than total fossil hydrocarbons ( summation operatorPHE) declared that atmospheric fall-out is the significant source of PAHs to marine sediments of the Egyptian Mediterranean coast. The selected marked compounds, a principal component analysis (PCA) and special PAHs compound ratios (phenanthrene/anthracene vs fluoranthene/pyrene; summation operatorCOMB/ summation operatorEPA-PAHs) suggest the pyrogenic origins, especially traffic exhausts, are the dominant sources of PAHs in most locations. Interferences of rather petrogenic and pyrolytic PAH contaminations were noticed in the harbors due to petroleum products deliveries and fuel combustion emissions from the ships staying alongside the quays.

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