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Ecological risk assessment of parent and halogenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in surface sediments from an urban river in south China

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In the present study, 16 priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (Σ16PAHs), including seven carcinogenic PAHs (Σ7PAHs) designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in surface sediment from an urban river (Shenzhen, south China) were measured. The concentrations of Σ16PAHs and Σ7PAHs ranged from 27.92 to 7409 ng/g and 0.53 to 2326 ng/g, respectively. Source appointments indicated that the PAHs in surface sediments were mainly derived from coal combustion (36.6%), oil spills (22.2%), vehicle emission (19.5%), and waste incineration (12.1%). The ecological risks posed by PAHs and several halogenated PAHs in these sediment samples were assessed using two redefined guidelines incorporating the toxic equivalency quotients (TEQs) of individual PAH congeners: TEQs effect range–low and TEQs effect range–median. The authors' results suggested that the PAHs they measured in most of the sediments in this urban river would not cause acute biological effects. On the contrary, the ecological risk posed by some halogenated PAHs was much higher than that of their corresponding parent PAHs. Finally, the relationships between PAH levels and catchment urbanization processes were examined. The results indicated that rapid urbanization has led to an obvious increase in PAH contamination in surface sediments. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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