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Environ Sci Technol. 2005 Aug 1;39(15):5560-6.

Parking lot sealcoat: an unrecognized source of urban polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

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United States Geological Survey, 8027 Exchange Drive, Austin, Texas 78754, USA.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a ubiquitous contaminant in urban environments. Although numerous sources of PAHs to urban runoff have been identified, their relative importance remains uncertain. We show that a previously unidentified source of urban PAHs, parking lot sealcoat, may dominate loading of PAHs to urban water bodies in the United States. Particles in runoff from parking lots with coal-tar emulsion sealcoat had mean concentrations of PAHs of 3500 mg/kg, 65 times higher than the mean concentration from unsealed asphalt and cement lots. Diagnostic ratios of individual PAHs indicating sources are similar for particles from coal-tar emulsion sealed lots and suspended sediment from four urban streams. Contaminant yields projected to the watershed scale for the four associated watersheds indicate that runoff from sealed parking lots could account for the majority of stream PAH loads.

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