Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in marine sediment of the northwestern Mediterranean Sea (Italy)

Sigfrido Cannarsa, Maria Cesarina Abete, Mauro Zanardi, Stefania Squadrone

ENEA Centro Ricerche Energia Ambiente ENEA Pezzuolo di Lerici, La Spezia, ITALY
Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte, Liguria e valle d’Aosta, ITALY


The presence and distribution of the 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) priority pollutant listed by US EPA (Naphthalene, Acenaphthylene, Acenaphthene, Fluorene, Phenanthrene, Anthracene, Fluoranthene, Pyrene, Benzo[a]anthracene, Chrysene, Benzo[b]fluoranthene, Benzo[k]fluoranthene, Benzo[a]pyrene, Dibenzo[a,h]anthracene, Benzo[g,h,i]perylene, Indeno[1,2,3-c,d]pyrene) were investigated in sediments from 35 stations of the Ligurian coast (Northern Italy). Results were shown as total PAH concentrations (PAHs) and molecular indices based on ratios of selected PAH concentrations were used to differentiate PAHs from pyrogenic and petrogenic origin. Analysis was performed by gas/chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) with selected ion monitoring (SIM). Total PAHs concentrations ranged from 1113 to 17006 ng/g of dry matrix. PAH profiles varied according to the nature of the site and its proximity to sources; in general, the contamination levels of total PAHs were similar to those observed in contaminated and slightly contaminated sediments of the Mediterranean Sea. In some cases the concentration of contaminants is influenced by physical circulation processes that raise the concentrations of anthropogenic pollutants offshore an order of magnitude higher than those near industrial and harbors activities.

Keywords: PAHs, sediment, Ligurian Sea, GC-MS, pollution

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