Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are components of petroleum products such as gasoline, coal, and oil. They are also produced as by-products of the combustion of fuels including petroleum and fire wood.
PAHs can cause cancer and other health effects. Because they are produced during combustion, they are ubiquitous, and their levels are high enough to be a concern in all urban waterways. However, because there are so many potential sources of PAHs in the environment, it is not clear which of these sources are most responsible for the contamination in the water. Knowing what the major sources are would help states formulate more effective strategies to control them.
A group of scientist funded by the New York Academy of Sciences undertook an extensive review of the possible sources of PAHs to the New York/New Jersey Harbor. They estimated the input magnitude of 10 individual PAH compounds to the harbor from tributaries, atmospheric deposition, wastewater treatment plant discharges, combined sewer overflows, and storm water runoff. They also estimated the amount of these PAHs removed from the harbor by tidal exchange between the harbor and the coastal ocean and Long Island Sound, volatilization into the atmosphere, and accumulation or burial of sediment-bound PAHs at the bottom of the harbor. Results from the study were published in the March-April 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.
The authors primarily relied on data on PAH concentrations in wastewater treatment plant discharges, combined sewer overflows, storm water runoff , and the water column of the New York/New Jersey Harbor collected by the Contaminant Assessment and Reduction Project (funded by the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey). They also used data from the USEPA’s Regional Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (REMAP), and from the New Jersey Atmospheric Deposition Network, which is run by one of the authors (Lisa Rodenburg) and was funded by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. These data sets were collected during 1998 to 2002, so the study represents a snapshot of the harbor at that time.
The results showed that storm water runoff was the main pathway for inputs of all PAHs into the harbor, contributing about half the total load. Deposition from the atmosphere directly to the harbor surface was found to be important for the smaller PAH compounds. By estimating both the loads and losses, the scientists determined that PAH levels in the harbor are remaining steady; that is, the loads are roughly balanced by the losses, so no accumulation is occurring over time. The study also identified some gaps in the data that made it difficult to construct accurate estimates of loads and losses. These data gaps primarily concerned storm water runoff and combined sewer overflows. For both of these sources, more information is needed on both PAH concentrations and the magnitude of the flows themselves.“This is the first time that we have been able to demonstrate just how important storm water runoff is in terms of contributing pollution to the New York/New Jersey Harbor. And since the harbor is pretty typical of urban waterways, our conclusions probably apply to most other cities in the United States and across the globe,” says Lisa Rodenburg, who coauthored the study. The results of the study suggest that municipalities that want to reduce PAH levels in their waterways will have to develop storm water management plans to control the amount of storm water runoff entering their waters and to remove sediment from the runoff that carries PAHs.
The Journal of Environmental Quality, http://jeq.scijournals.org is a peer-reviewed, international journal of environmental quality in natural and agricultural ecosystems published six times a year by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). The Journal of Environmental Quality covers various aspects of anthropogenic impacts on the environment, including terrestrial, atmospheric, and aquatic systems.
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) www.agronomy.org, is a scientific society helping its 8,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of member services.
Sara Uttech | EurekAlert!
Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences