CiteWeb id: 20020000283

CiteWeb score: 2935

DOI: 10.1016/S0146-6380(02)00002-5

Parent and alkyl PAHs (51 compounds and alkyl homologues) have been quantified in suspended particulates and sediments (345 samples) from the Fraser River system, British Columbia, Canada. The best potential to distinguish natural and anthropogenic sources is exhibited by ratios of the principal mass 178, 202, 228 and 276 parent PAHs, 1,7/2,6+1,7-DMP (dimethylphenanthrene), the phenanthrene/anthracene and fluoranthene/pyrene alkyl PAH series and several less commonly applied PAHs (e.g. acephenanthrylene and pentaphene). Using these ratios we infer sources of PAH to the Fraser basin and evaluate the consistency of these source assignments and the suitability of various commonly applied PAH ratios as indicators. PAH ratios and total concentration data reveal a basin lightly impacted by a variety of sources in its remote regions, especially near roads, but heavily impacted in urban areas, particularly near Vancouver. Contamination sources shift from biomass (e.g. wood and grass) burning to vehicle emissions between remote and urban locations. Stormwater and wastewater discharges appear to collect PAH from urban areas and release them as point sources. In contaminated areas ratios are specific for combustion vs. petroleum sources, and some ratios (202 and 276) distinguish biomass or coal from liquid fossil fuel combustion. At lower concentrations multiple sources at times make interpretations based on a single ratio misleading and the higher mass ratios (228 and 276) may be most applicable to urban areas. In all cases the examination of a variety of PAH indicator ratios that encompass a range of masses is necessary for a robust interpretation.