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Environ Pollut. 2006 May;141(2):370-80. Epub 2005 Oct 24.

Relation between PAH and black carbon contents in size fractions of Norwegian harbor sediments.

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Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Pb. 3930 Ullevaal Stadion, N-0806 Oslo, Norway.


Distributions of total organic carbon (TOC), black carbon (BC), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were investigated in different particle size fractions for four Norwegian harbor sediments. The total PAH (16-EPA) concentrations ranged from 2 to 113 mg/kg dry weight with the greatest fraction of PAH mass in the sand fraction for three of the four sediments. TOC contents ranged from 0.84% to 14.2% and BC contents from 0.085% to 1.7%. This corresponds to organic carbon (OC = TOC - BC) contents in the range of 0.81-14% and BC:TOC ratios of 1.3-18.1%. PAH isomer ratios suggested that the PAH in all four sediments were of pyrogenic origin. Furthermore, stronger correlations between PAH versus BC (r2 = 0.85) than versus OC (r2 = 0.15) were found. For all size fractions and bulk sediments, the PAH-to-BC ratios for the total PAHs were on average 6+/-3 mg PAH/g BC. These results suggest that PAH distributions were dominated by the presence of BC, rather than OC. As sorption to BC is much stronger than sorption to OC, this may result in significantly lower dissolved concentrations of PAH than expected on the basis of organic carbon partitioning alone.

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