Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in coastal sediments of southwest Taiwan: an appraisal of diagnostic ratios in source recognition

Jheng-Jie Jiang, Chon-Lin Lee, Meng-Der Fang, James T Liu
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2009, 58 (5): 752-60
Fifty-seven surface sediment samples were collected from the coast of southwest Taiwan and analyzed for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Concentrations of total PAHs (28 PAH compounds) ranged from 15 to 907 ng g(-1) dry weight. Diagnostic ratios showed that PAHs in the sediments of the Gaoping estuary were predominantly of petroleum origin, whereas sediments from the Kaohsiung coast contained principally combustion-derived PAHs. Principal component analysis indicated that emissions from automobiles and coal burning were the main sources of combustion-derived PAHs. The relatively high ratios of perylene/penta-aromatic PAH isomers in sediments from the Tainan coast and some off-shore stations on the Kaohsiung coast suggest a significant diagenetic PAH contribution. The study shows that certain diagnostic ratios are useful and sensitive in delineating the distribution of PAHs from specific sources in southwest Taiwan. The phenanthrene/anthracene ratio is a better indicator than the methylphenanthrenes/phenanthrene ratio for tracing petrogenic PAHs, and the benzo(a)anthracene/chrysene and indeno(1,2,3-c,d)pyrene/benzo(g,h,i)perylene ratios are more specific than the benzo(a)pyrene/benzo(e)pyrene and benzo(b)fluoranthcene/benzo(k)fluoranthcene ratios in distinguishing PAHs from various pyrogenic sources.

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