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Sci Total Environ. 2009 Apr 1;407(8):2461-73. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.12.008. Epub 2009 Feb 4.

Native polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in coals - a hardly recognized source of environmental contamination.

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  • 1University of Vienna, Department of Environmental Geosciences, Althanstr. 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria.


Numerous environmental polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) sources have been reported in literature, however, unburnt hard coal/ bituminous coal is considered only rarely. It can carry native PAH concentrations up to hundreds, in some cases, thousands of mg/kg. The molecular structures of extractable compounds from hard coals consist mostly of 2-6 polyaromatic condensed rings, linked by ether or methylene bridges carrying methyl and phenol side chains. The extractable phase may be released to the aquatic environment, be available to organisms, and thus be an important PAH source. PAH concentrations and patterns in coals depend on the original organic matter type, as well as temperature and pressure conditions during coalification. The environmental impact of native unburnt coal-bound PAH in soils and sediments is not well studied, and an exact source apportionment is hardly possible. In this paper, we review the current state of the art.

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