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PAH and PCB contamination in the sediments of the Venice Lagoon (Italy) before the installation of the MOSE flood defence works

Cassin, Daniele, Dominik, Janusz, Botter, Margherita, Zonta, Roberto
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.25 pp. 24951-24964
United States Environmental Protection Agency, aroclors, atmospheric deposition, burning, capillary gas chromatography, coasts, guidelines, high performance liquid chromatography, inventories, petroleum, pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sediments, toxicity, Italy
Contamination from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the shallow water areas of the Venice Lagoon (415 km²) was investigated in the surface (0–5 cm) and sub-surface (5–10 cm) sediments by collecting cores from 380 sites. The concentrations of 14 PAHs (USEPA priority pollutants) and seven PCB indicator congeners were analysed with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and capillary gas chromatography (GC), respectively. PAH and PCB concentrations ranged from 2.75 to 9980 ng g⁻¹ d.w. and from 0.01 to 60.1 ng g⁻¹ d.w., respectively. Their concentrations never exceeded the probable effect level (PEL) stipulated in the respective quality guidelines. In addition, the average total PAH levels expressed as B[a]P toxicity equivalents (total TEQ) were lower in the sediments of the Venice Lagoon than in other literature-reported zones in the Mediterranean. PAH profiles and ratios showed that they originated not only largely from high-temperature pyrolytic processes attributable primarily to the burning of fossil fuels but also partly from petroleum spillage. Comparison of tetra-to-hepta PCB congeners enabled the PCB profiles observed in the lagoon environment to be characterised as Aroclor 1254 and 1260 (1:1). Compared to other marine coastal areas and harbours in the Mediterranean, the Venice Lagoon sediments showed a low mean value but a wide range of concentrations. The estimation of PAH and PCB inventories indicated the low contribution of atmospheric deposition relative to local sources.