thumbnail

Urban sprawl leaves its PAH signature

Environmental Science and Technology

By:
, , and
DOI: 10.1021/es991007n

Links

Abstract

The increasing vehicle traffic associated with urban sprawl in the United States is frequently linked to degradation of air quality, but its effect on aquatic sediment is less well-recognized. This study evaluates trends in PAHs, a group of contaminants with multiple urban sources, in sediment cores from 10 reservoirs and lakes in six U.S. metropolitan areas. The watersheds chosen represent a range in degree and age of urbanization. Concentrations of PAHs in all 10 reservoirs and lakes increased during the past 20-40 years. PAH contamination of the most recently deposited sediment at all sites exceeded sediment-quality guidelines established by Environment Canada, in some cases by several orders of magnitude. These results add a new chapter to the story told by previous coring studies that reported decreasing concentrations of PAHs after reaching highs in the 1950s. Concurrent with the increase in concentrations is a change in the assemblage of PAHs that indicates the increasing trends are driven by combustion sources. The increase in PAH concentrations tracks closely with increases in automobile use, even in watersheds that have not undergone substantial changes in urban land-use levels since the 1970s.The increasing vehicle traffic associated with urban sprawl in the United States is frequently linked to degradation of air quality, but its effect on aquatic sediment is less well-recognized. This study evaluates trends in PAHs, a group of contaminants with multiple urban sources, in sediment cores from 10 reservoirs and lakes in six U.S. metropolitan areas. The watersheds chosen represent a range in degree and age of urbanization. Concentrations of PAHs in all 10 reservoirs and lakes increased during the past 20-40 years. PAH contamination of the most recently deposited sediment at all sites exceeded sediment-quality guidelines established by Environment Canada, in some cases by several orders of magnitude. These results add a new chapter to the story told by previous coring studies that reported decreasing concentrations of PAHs after reaching highs in the 1950s. Concurrent with the increase in concentrations is a change in the assemblage of PAHs that indicates the increasing trends are driven by combustion sources. The increase in PAH concentrations tracks closely with increases in automobile use, even in watersheds that have not undergone substantial changes in urban land-use levels since the 1970s.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Urban sprawl leaves its PAH signature
Series title:
Environmental Science and Technology
DOI:
10.1021/es991007n
Volume
34
Issue:
19
Year Published:
2000
Language:
English
Publisher:
ACS
Publisher location:
Washington, DC, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Environmental Science and Technology
First page:
4064
Last page:
4070