Distribution, source apportionment, and transport of PAHs in sediments from the Pearl River Delta and the Northern South China Sea

Xiao-Jun Luo, She-Jun Chen, Bi-Xian Mai, Guo-Ying Sheng, Jia-Mo Fu, Eddy Y Zeng
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 2008, 55 (1): 11-20
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were measured in 59 surface sediments from rivers in the Pearl River Delta and the northern continental shelf of the South China Sea. Total PAH concentrations varied from 138 to 6,793 ng/g dry weight. The sources of PAH inputs to sediments in the Pearl River Delta were qualitatively and quantitatively determined by diagnostic ratios and principal components analysis with multiple linear regression. The results showed that on average coal and wood combustion, petroleum spills, vehicle emissions, and nature sources contributed 36%, 27%, 25%, and 12% of total PAHs, respectively. Coal and biomass combustion was the main source of PAHs in sediments of the South China Sea, whereas petroleum combustion was the main source of pyrolytic PAHs in riverine and estuarine sediments of the Pearl River Delta. Perylene was formed in situ in river sediments and then transported to coastal areas along with other PAHs. The relative abundance of perylene from five-ring PAHs can be used to estimate the contribution of riverine-discharged PAHs to coastal sediments.

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