Institut Méditerranéen d’Océanologie
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Remobilization of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and organic matter in seawater during sediment resuspension experiments from a polluted coastal environment : Insights from Toulon Bay (France)

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in Environmental Pollution 229:627-638 · July 2017
DOI : 10.1016/j.envpol.2017.06.090
Guigue C, Tedetti M, Dang DH, Mullot JU, Garnier C, Goutx M.

Abstract

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and organic matter contents were measured in seawater during resuspension experiments using sediments collected from Toulon Bay (Northwestern Mediterranean Sea, France). The studied sediments were very highly contaminated in PAHs, especially in 4-ring compounds emitted from combustion processes. The sediments used for resuspension experiments were collected at 0-2 cm (diagenetically new organic matter, OM) and 30-32 cm depths (diagenetically transformed OM). They were both mostly composed of fine particles (<63 μm), enriched in organic carbon (8.2 and 6.3%, respectively) and in PAHs (concentration of Σ34 PAHs : 38.2 and 35.7 × 10(3) ng g(-1), respectively). The resuspension of these sediments led to an increase in concentrations of dissolved Σ34 PAHs, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and dissolved humic- and tryptophan-like fluorophores in seawater up to 10-, 1.3-, 4.4- and 5.7-fold, respectively. The remobilization in seawater was higher for 4-6 ring PAHs, especially benzo(g,h,i)perylene, whose concentration exceeded the threshold values of the European Water Framework Directive. This noted the potential harmful effects of sediment resuspension on marine biota. From these sediment resuspension experiments, we determined OC-normalized partition coefficients of PAHs between sediment and water (Koc) and found that during such events, the transfer of PAHs from sediment particles to seawater was lower than that predicted from octanol-water partition coefficients (Kow) (i.e., measured Koc > Koc predicted from Kow). The results confirmed the sequestration role of sedimentary OC quality and grain size on PAHs ; the OM diagenetic state seemed to impact the partition process but in a relatively minor way. Furthermore, differences were observed between 2-4 ring and 5-6 ring PAHs, with the latter displaying a relatively higher mobility towards seawater. These differences may be explained by the distribution of these two PAH pools within different OM moieties, such as humic substances and black carbon.

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