EVALUATION OF POTENTIAL MOLECULAR MARKERS FOR URBAN STORMWATER RUNOFF

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Source specificity and persistence of several sulfur-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (SPAHs), nitro-PAHs (N-PAHs), and triphenylene were examined via analyses of stormwater runoff and wastewater effluent samples and spiked samples upon exposure to sunlight. Samples were collected during the 1997/1998 wet weather season from two major storm channels and four major wastewater treatment plants in southern California. Among the target compounds examined, 2-(4-morpholinyl)benzothiazole, dibenzothiophene, and triphenylene/chrysene were detected in storm runoff only. However, 2-(4 morpholinyl)benzothiazole appeared to degrade rapidly in seawater and sediment after sunlight exposure, which might impede its use as a runoff indicator. Dibenzothiophene and triphenylene also degraded quickly in sunlight-exposed seawater samples, but remained fairly abundant in sediments after six months of exposure to sunlight. They are by far the most promising candidates of urban runoff markers based on the criteria of abundance, source specificity, and persistence, although more research efforts are needed to ensure that no other sources would also contribute significantly to their presence in the aquatic environment.

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