Impacts of urbanization on surface sediment quality: evidence from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contaminations in the Grand Canal of China

Youwei Hong, Shen Yu, Guangbin Yu, Yi Liu, Guilin Li, Min Wang
Environmental Science and Pollution Research International 2012, 19 (5): 1352-63

INTRODUCTION: Organic pollutants, especially synthetic organic compounds, can indicate paces of anthropogenic activities. Effects of urbanization on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) distributions in surface sediment were conducted in urban sections of the Grand Canal, China, consisting of a four-level urbanization gradient.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The four-level urbanization gradients include three countryside towns, two small-size cities, three medium-size cities, and a large-size city. Diagnostic ratio analysis and factor analysis-multiple linear regression model were used for source apportionment of PAHs. Sediment quality guidelines (SQGs) of USA and Canada were employed to assess ecological risks of PAHs and PCBs in surface sediments of the Canal.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Ranges of PAH and PCB concentrations in surface sediments were 0.66-22 mg/kg and 0.5-93 μg/kg, respectively. Coal-related sources were primary PAH sources and followed by vehicular emission. Total concentration, composition, and source apportionment of PAHs exhibited urbanization gradient effects. Total PCB concentrations increased with the urbanization gradient, while total PAHs concentration in surface sediments presented an inverted U Kuznets curve with the urbanization gradient. Elevated concentrations of both PAHs and PCBs ranged at effect range low levels or interim SQG, assessed by USA and Canadian SQGs.

CONCLUSIONS: PAHs and PCBs in surface sediments of the Grand Canal showed urbanization gradient effects and low ecological risks.

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