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Determination of influencing factors on historical concentration variations of PAHs in West Taihu Lake, China

Li, Yan, Wang, Genmei, Wang, Junxiao, Jia, Zhenyi, Zhou, Yujie, Wang, Chunhui, Li, Yanyan, Zhou, Shenglu
Environmental pollution 2019 v.249 pp. 573-580
adsorption, anthropogenic activities, burning, clay, clay fraction, coal, combustion, economic development, isotopes, lakes, lead, petroleum, pollution, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sediments, soot, total organic carbon, watersheds, China
The adsorption of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by components such as elemental carbon (EC), total organic carbon (TOC), and particles is different, and EC and PAHs are good materials for reconstructing historical human activity patterns and pollution conditions. In this study, the effects of EC (soot and char), TOC and particles of different grain size on PAHs in surface sediments were quantitatively analysed, and their historical concentrations in a sediment core from western Taihu Lake were reconstructed. The contents of soot, TOC, clay, EC and char explained 57.2%, 27.6%, 26.0%, 24.0% and 16.4%, respectively, of the PAH concentrations in surface sediments. The correlation between the soot and PAH levels was significantly higher than that between the char, TOC, and clay contents and PAH levels, and PAHs were mainly affected by the local economic development and human activity, as indicated by metrics of population, highway mileage, coal burning, and industrial output. With the development of the economy of the Taihu Lake Basin, the composition of PAHs in the sediments has changed: the proportion of low-molecular-weight PAHs decreased from 42.4% to 17.5%, and that of high-molecular-weight PAHs increased from 58.7% to 82.5%. The concentration of PAHs in pore water from Taihu Lake over the past 100 years was reconstructed and ranged from 43.1 to 961.2 μg L−1, with an average of 180.7 μg L−1. After China's reform and opening up, the concentrations of various PAHs in Taihu Lake changed from safe to chronic pollution levels. The ratios of lead (Pb) isotopes and the diagnostic ratios of PAHs showed that the main sources of PAHs in western Taihu Lake sediments were human activities such as coal and petroleum combustion.