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Impacts of crab bioturbation on the fate of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in sediment from the Beitang estuary of Tianjin, China

Authors

  • Xuebo Qin,

    1. MOE Key Laboratory of Pollution Processes and Environmental Criteria, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
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  • Hongwen Sun,

    Corresponding author
    1. MOE Key Laboratory of Pollution Processes and Environmental Criteria, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
    • MOE Key Laboratory of Pollution Processes and Environmental Criteria, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China.
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  • Cuiping Wang,

    1. MOE Key Laboratory of Pollution Processes and Environmental Criteria, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
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  • Yong Yu,

    1. MOE Key Laboratory of Pollution Processes and Environmental Criteria, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
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  • Tieheng Sun

    1. Key Laboratory of Terrestrial Ecological Process, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China
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Abstract

Bioturbation by the burrowing crab Helice tiensinensis was investigated to determine its impact on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-contaminated estuarine sediments. The concentrations of 16 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) priority PAHs in sediment and pore water from a crab bed (including surface and burrow samples) and a control area, as well as in crabs, were measured. The total concentration of the 16 U.S. EPA priority PAHs in surface sediment of the crab bed (average 2,772 ng/g dry weight) was significantly higher than in the control area (1,173 ng/g dry weight). In the crab bed, the total concentration of PAHs in burrow sediment (1,239 ng/g dry weight) was lower than in surface sediment, and a similar trend was found for most of the individual PAHs, except for indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene, and benzo[ghi]perylene. The enhanced PAH desorption in the burrow, which could be attributed to the increase in dissolved organic matter in pore water as well as the mechanical mixing by the crab, is expected to increase PAH flux to the sea. In addition to increased flushing to the sea, incorporation of PAHs in crab biomass and metabolism of PAHs by the crab, stimulated microbial degradation, was proposed as an ignorable factor that lowered the PAH concentration in burrow sediment, because crab bioturbation increases the abundance and activity of microorganisms through several means. Log KOW and log KOC correlated well for individual PAHs in sediment in the control area, although this correlation was poor for sediments in the crab bed. The log biota-sediment accumulation factor (BSAF) of PAHs exhibited a negative relationship with log KOW, suggesting that the bioaccumulation of sorbed PAHs was controlled primarily by their bioavailability. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:1248–1255. © 2010 SETAC

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