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Accumulation and bioconcentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in a nearshore estuarine environment near a Pensacola (Florida) creosote contamination site

Environmental Pollution

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Abstract

Long-term accumulation of creosote wastes at a wood-preserving facility near Pensacola, Florida, has produced high levels of organic contamination of groundwaters near Pensacola Bay. Impacts of this contamination on the nearshore environment of the bay were examined by analysis of water, sediment and tissues of two mollusc species. One of the species (Thais haemastoma) was native to the study area. Individuals of the other test species (Crassostrea virginica) were placed in cages at the test sites for a 6-week period. Contamination at the nearshore estuarine sites was assessed by comparison to a control site in an uncontaminated area of the bay, as well as a small stream which forms a direct surface-water link between the creosote storage ponds and the bay. The study focused on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), the primary components of creosote. Very little PAH in water or in the surface layer of estuarine sediments was detected, despite heavy pollution of the stream sediments. This is attributed to various degradation processes which attack the PAH compounds once they discharge into the estuary, and to the likelihood of intermittent and localised release of contaminants to the estuary. Examination of sediment cores and mollusc tissues, which provide a record integrated over time and space, revealed some accumulation of a few PAH, notably fluoranthene, pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene and phenanthrene. In the sediments, the highest concentrations of these compounds appeared below the surface, within a depth range of 8-13 cm. Bioaccumulation of fluoranthene, pyrene and phenanthrene in both mollusc species was up to ten times greater at test sites than at the control site. This contrasts with naphthalene, the bioaccumulation of which was no greater at test sites than at the control site. These differences in bioaccumulation factors relate to structural chemistry of the compounds which control their solubility, bioavailability, susceptibility to degradation and capacity for depuration by the organism.Long-term accumulation of creosote wastes at a wood-preserving facility near Pensacola, Florida, has produced high levels of organic contamination of groundwaters near Pensacola Bay. Impacts of this contamination on the nearshore environment of the bay were examined by analysis of water, sediment and tissues of two mollusc species. Very little PAH in water or in the surface layer of estuarine sediments was detected, despite heavy pollution of the stream sediments. This is attributed to various degradation processes which attack the PAH compounds once they discharge into the estuary, and to the likelihood of intermittent and localized release of contaminants to the estuary. There was some accumulation of a few PAH, notably fluoranthene, pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene and phenanthrene. In the sediments, the highest concentrations of these compounds appeared below the surface, within a depth range of 8-13 cm. Bioaccumulation of fluoranthene, pyrene and phenanthrene in both mollusc species was up to ten times greater at test sites than at the control site. Differences in bioaccumulation factors relate to structural chemistry of the compounds which control their solubility, bioavailability, susceptibility to degradation and capacity for depuration by the organism.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Accumulation and bioconcentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in a nearshore estuarine environment near a Pensacola (Florida) creosote contamination site
Series title:
Environmental Pollution
Volume
49
Issue:
2
Year Published:
1988
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Environmental Pollution
First page:
117
Last page:
132
Number of Pages:
16