Spatial distribution and source apportionment of PAHs in surficial sediments of the Yangtze Estuary, China

Baohua Li, Chenghong Feng, Xue Li, Yaxin Chen, Junfeng Niu, Zhenyao Shen
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2012, 64 (3): 636-43
Spatial distribution and source apportionment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the surface sediments of the Yangtze Estuary, especially the North Branch, have been fully investigated. PAH concentrations increased with the descending distance from the inner estuary to the adjacent sea, and varied significantly in various estuarine regions. Water currents (e.g., river runoff and ocean current) greatly affected the distribution pattern. In addition, ambient sewage and traffic also contributed to the PAH pollution in the estuary. In the adjacent sea, PAH values along the -20m isobath were higher than those along the -10m isobath due to the "marginal filter" phenomenon formed by different water currents. In most sites, PAHs had poor correlations with sediment size, but had positive correlations with total organic carbon. Based on the qualitative and quantitative analysis results, PAH sources were proved to be mainly from a mixture of petroleum combustion, biomass, and coal combustion.

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