The activities of modern civilization have released to the oceans a wide variety of both mobilized natural compounds and synthetic compounds not found prior to modern times. Many of these compounds provide a means of identifying sources of inputs and pathways of movement of chemicals through oceanic ecosystems and serve as molecular markers of human activities. A coastal ocean (Tokyo Bay) and a deep ocean (Deep Water Dump Site 106 in the Western North Atlantic Ocean) example are presented. In the deep ocean study, the correlation between potential sewage marker, i.e. linear alkylbenzenes (LABs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) concentrations indicates a contribution of sewage sludge PCBs to the dump site sediments.
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Anthropogenic molecular markers: Tools to identify the sources and transport pathways of pollutants