Main content area

Unmix Optimum analysis of PAH sediment sources

Norris, Gary A., Henry, Ronald C.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.673 pp. 831-838
algorithms, coal tar, combustion, data analysis, data collection, lakes, multivariate analysis, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sealants, sediments, uncertainty, Texas
Unmix Optimum (UnmixO) was developed to analyze data, such as sediment PAH data, that were resistant to existing methods of multivariate analysis. Using a geometrical approach, UnmixO uses multiple advanced nonlinear optimization algorithms to find potential sources that obey non-negativity constraints while optimally fitting the data. UnmixO does not require specific knowledge of the uncertainties in the data and will work better for smaller data sets than other multivariate models. UnmixO was able to identify polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contaminant sources contributing to sediment samples based on sample composition data with good diagnostic values. Results were compared to published EPA Chemical Mass Balance (CMB) sediment results from Lady Bird Lake (LBL) Austin, TX and 40 lakes (40LKS) across the U.S. A Chi-sum approach determined which UnmixO source profile best matched profiles used in CMB sediment studies; two coal tar (CT) sealcoat sources and a mixed combustion source contributed to the sediment PAHs. These results were consistent with CMB results for the LBL and 40LKS studies that estimated CT sealcoats contribute over 80% of PAHs to urban lakes. UnmixO results also showed that CT sealant's contribution to sediments decreased after the City of Austin ban in 2006.