Importance of black carbon in distribution and bioaccumulation models of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in contaminated marine sediments

Authors

  • Amy E. Vinturella,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. A. E. Vinturella is Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, 1440 Canal Street, Suite 800, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
    • Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA
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  • Robert M. Burgess,

    1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ORD/NHEERL Atlantic Ecology Division Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882
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  • Brent A. Coull,

    1. Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA
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  • Kimberly M. Thompson,

    1. Departments of Health Policy and Management and Maternal and Child Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA
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  • James P. Shine

    1. Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA
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  • Presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Salt Lake City, UT, USA November 16–20, 2002.

Abstract

The roles and relative importance of nonpyrogenic organic carbon (NPOC) and black carbon (BC) as binding phases of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were assessed by their ability to estimate pore water concentrations and biological uptake in various marine sediments. Sediment bioaccumulation tests were performed with the marine polychaete Nereis virens, using a polyethylene device to estimate pore water concentrations of PAHs. Using existing partitioning data for pyrene and phenanthrene, it was found that the traditional Equilibrium Partitioning model, which assumes all organic carbon is NPOC (EqPOC), overestimated the measured pore water concentrations in the test sediments by one to three orders of magnitude. Instead, the measured pore water concentrations were better predicted from a distribution scenario that uses both BC and NPOC (EqPNPOC,BC). When comparing actual worm body burdens of pyrene and phenanthrene with the two model estimates of worm tissue concentrations, the EqPOC model tended to overestimate actual body burdens by three orders of magnitude, while the EqPNPOC,BC model came much closer to the true body burden values. The observed distribution of PAHs in the test sediments was used to calculate BC partition coefficients for five PAHs, which were one to two orders of magnitude higher than their corresponding organic carbon–normalized distribution coefficients, or KOCs. Together, these results suggest that, in certain situations, adding black carbon to distribution models may be necessary to predict accurately the bioavailability of PAHs.

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