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Concept: Phenanthrene


Emissions of organic substances with potential toxicity to humans and the environment are a major concern surrounding the rapid industrial development in the Athabasca oil sands region (AOSR). Although concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in some environmental samples have been reported, a comprehensive picture of organic contaminant sources, pathways, and sinks within the AOSR has yet to be elucidated. We sought to use a dynamic multimedia environmental fate model to reconcile the emissions and residue levels reported for three representative PAHs in the AOSR. Data describing emissions to air compiled from two official sources result in simulated concentrations in air, soil, water, and foliage that tend to fall close to or below the minimum measured concentrations of phenanthrene, pyrene, and benzo(a)pyrene in the environment. Accounting for evaporative emissions (e.g., from tailings pond disposal) provides a more realistic representation of PAH distribution in the AOSR. Such indirect emissions to air were found to be a greater contributor of PAHs to the AOSR atmosphere relative to reported direct emissions to air. The indirect pathway transporting uncontrolled releases of PAHs to aquatic systems via the atmosphere may be as significant a contributor of PAHs to aquatic systems as other supply pathways. Emission density estimates for the three PAHs that account for tailings pond disposal are much closer to estimated global averages than estimates based on the available emissions datasets, which fall close to the global minima. Our results highlight the need for improved accounting of PAH emissions from oil sands operations, especially in light of continued expansion of these operations.

Concepts: Petroleum, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Organic chemistry, Hydrocarbon, Aromaticity, Naphthalene, Phenanthrene, Anthracene


Concentrations of 22 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were estimated for individual particle-size distributions at the airport apron of the Taipei International Airport, Taiwan, on 48 days in July, September, October, and December of 2011. In total, 672 integrated air samples were collected using a micro-orifice uniform deposition impactor (MOUDI) and a nano-MOUDI. Particle-bound PAHs (P-PAHs) were analyzed by gas chromatography with mass selective detector (GC/MSD). The five most abundant species of P-PAHs on all sampling days were naphthalene (NaP), phenanthrene (PA), fluoranthene (FL), acenaphthene (AcP), and pyrene (Pyr). Total P-PAHs concentrations were 152.21, 184.83, and 188.94 ng/m(3) in summer, autumn, and winter, respectively. On average, the most abundant fractions of benzo[a]pyrene equivalent concentration (BaPeq) in different molecular weights were high-weight PAHs (79.29 %), followed by medium-weight PAHs (11.57 %) and low-weight PAHs (9.14 %). The mean BaPeq concentrations were 1.25 and 0.94 (ng/m(3)) in ultrafine particles (<0.1 μm) and nano-particles (<0.032 μm), respectively. The percentages of total BaPeq in nano- and ultrafine particulate size ranges were 52.4 % and 70.15 %, respectively.

Concepts: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Aromaticity, Airport, Naphthalene, Phenanthrene, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Pyrene, Fluoranthene


Trichoderma asperellum H15, a previously isolated strain characterized by its high tolerance to low (LMW) and high molecular weight (HMW) PAHs, was tested for its ability to degrade 3-5 ring PAHs (phenanthrene, pyrene, and benzo[a]pyrene) in soil microcosms along with a biostimulation treatment with sugarcane bagasse. T. asperellum H15 rapidly adapted to PAH-contaminated soils, producing more CO2 than uncontaminated microcosms and achieving up to 78 % of phenanthrene degradation in soils contaminated with 1,000 mg Kg(-1) after 14 days. In soils contaminated with 1,000 mg Kg(-1) of a three-PAH mixture, strain H15 was shown to degrade 74 % phenanthrene, 63 % pyrene, and 81 % of benzo[a]pyrene. Fungal catechol 1,2 dioxygenase, laccase, and peroxidase enzyme activities were found to be involved in the degradation of PAHs by T. asperellum. The results demonstrated the potential of T. asperellum H15 to be used in a bioremediation process. This is the first report describing the involvement of T. asperellum in LMW and HMW-PAH degradation in soils. These findings, along with the ability to remove large amounts of PAHs in soil found in the present work provide enough evidence to consider T. asperellum as a promising and efficient PAH-degrading microorganism.

Concepts: Archaea, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Aromaticity, Bioremediation, Phenanthrene, Anthracene, Pyrene, Trichoderma


Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are diverse organic contaminants released into the environment by both natural and anthropogenic activities. These compounds have negative impacts on plants growth and development. Although there are many reports on their existence in different parts of plant, their uptake and translocation pathways and mechanisms are not well understood yet. This paper highlights the uptake, translocation and accumulation of PAHs by wheat, sunflower and alfalfa through an experimental study under controlled conditions. Seeds were cultivated in a soil containing 50 mg/kg of phenanthrene and fluorene and their concentrations in plants roots and shoots were determined using a gas chromatograph after 7 and 14 days. The results showed that phenanthrene and fluorene concentrations in the treated plants were increased over the time. PAHs bioavailability was time and species dependent and generally, phenanthrene uptake and translocation was faster than that of fluorene, probably due to their higher Kow. Fluorene tended to accumulate in roots, but phenanthrene was transported to aerial parts of plants.

Concepts: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Root, Seed, Aromaticity, Naphthalene, Phenanthrene, Anthracene, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


This study focused on the combined effect of environmental conditions (temperature) and contamination (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs) on the activity of soil microorganisms (nitrifying bacteria). Phenanthrene (Phe) at five contamination levels (0, 1, 10, 100 and 1000 mg kg(-1) dry mass of soil) was employed as a model PAH compound in laboratory experiments that were conducted at three temperatures (i.e., 20 °C (recommended by ISO 15685 method), 15 and 30 °C). Three soils with different properties were used in these studies, and the activity of the nitrifying bacteria was assessed based on nitrification potential (NP) determinations. For the statistical evaluation of the results, the ANCOVA (analysis of covariance) method for three independent variables (i.e., temperature, phenanthrene concentration, soil matrix (as a qualitative variable)) and their interactions was employed. The results indicated on the significant interaction of all studied factors. Temperature influenced the toxicity of Phe towards NP, and this effect was related to the Phe concentration as well as was varied for the different soils. A low content of soil organic matter (controlling bioavailability of phenanthrene to soil microorganisms) enhanced the combined effect of temperature and Phe toxicity, and a high biological activity of the soil (high NP values) increased the effect of high temperature on the Phe stimulatory influence. The results indicate that the temperature should not be neglected in tests evaluating PAH ecotoxicity, especially for reliable ecological risk assessment.

Concepts: Archaea, Microbiology, Evaluation, Soil, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Humus, Organic matter, Phenanthrene


Biochar has high potential for organic pollutant immobilization due to its powerful sorption capacity. Nevertheless, potential risks may exist when biochar-sorbed organic pollutants are bioavailable. A direct plant exposure assay in combination with an organic solvent extraction experiment was carried out in this study to investigate the bioavailability of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) with the application of pine needle biochars pyrolyzed under different temperatures (100, 300, 400, and 700 °C; referred as P100-P700 accordingly). Biochar reduced solvent extractability and plant uptake of PAHs including naphthalene (Naph), acenaphthene (Acen), phenanthrene (Phen), and pyrene (Pyr), especially for three- and four-ring PAHs (Phen and Pyr) with high-temperature biochar. Plant uptake assay validates with organic solvent extraction for bioavailability assessment. Sorption of PAHs to biochars reduced plant uptake of PAHs in roots and shoots by lowering freely dissolved PAHs. Aging process reduced the bioavailability of PAHs that were bound to biochar. High pyrolysis temperature can be recommended for biochar preparation for purpose of effectively immobilizing PAHs, whereas application of moderate-temperature biochar for PAH immobilization should concern the potential risks of desorption and bioavailability of PAHs.

Concepts: Solubility, Carbon, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Aromaticity, Naphthalene, Phenanthrene, Anthracene


The principal aim of this study was to monitor the occurrence of some metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in fish and mussels from the Gulf of Naples. A comparison with previous researches of the same area was carried out, and the intakes of these compounds through the diet and their effect on the tolerable intake values (when available) were assessed. Cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), and lead (Pb) were detected by flameless atomic absorption spectroscopy (Cd, Cr, and Pb); arsenic (As) and mercury (Hg) were detected by applying the hydride method. PAHs were detected by high-performance liquid chromatography. Widespread contamination was found. Among the metals, Hg showed the highest maximum levels of 284.94 ng/g wet weight (ww) in fish and 480.00 ng/g ww in mussels. Chrysene, phenanthrene, fluoranthene, anthracene, and benzo[k]fluoranthene were the most common PAHs in fish, whereas benzo[a]anthracene, pyrene, phenanthrene, acenaphthylene, and acenaphthene were the most frequently occurring compounds in mussels. The concentrations of As, Cr, Hg, Pb, and PAHs in fish were found to decrease over a period of 30 years, whereas the Cd levels remained constant. The Hg, Pb, and PAH levels in mussels increased over the period 2010 to 2016. Finally, the average consumption of mussels led to the highest effect on the Tolerable Daily Intake of Hg, which was exceeded by 19%.

Concepts: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Analytical chemistry, Hydrocarbon, Naphthalene, Phenanthrene, Anthracene, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Pyrene


A conductometric sensor based on screen-printed interdigital gold electrodes on glass substrate coated with molecularly imprinted polyurethane layers was fabricated to detect polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in water. The results prove that screen-printed interdigital electrodes are very suitable transducers to fabricate low-cost sensor systems for measuring change in resistance of PAH-imprinted layers while exposing to different PAHs. The sensor showed good selectivity to its templated molecules and high sensitivity with a detection limit of 1.3 nmol/L e.g., for anthracene in water which is lower than WHO’s permissible limit.

Concepts: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Layer, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Aromaticity, Naphthalene, Phenanthrene, Anthracene


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are widespread in the environment and can adversely affect human health. The aim of the present study is to describe the level of PAHs exposure in children living in Kraków, one of the most polluted cities in Poland, and to determine the relationship of urinary biomarkers with environmental PAHsexposure. Urinary monohydroxy metabolites (OH-PAHs) of 20 PAHs were assessed in 218 three-year old children, of which only 10 were present in nearly all the samples: monohydroxy metabolites of naphthalene, fluorene, phenantrene and pyrene. Of the metabolites analyzed, hydroxynaphthalenes were predominant and constituted almost 73% of total excreted OH-PAHs, while 1-OH-PYRene was the least abundant (2.3% of total OH-PAHs). All measured urinary OH-PAHs were statistically significantly correlated with each other (R = 0.165-0.880) but the highest correlation coefficients with other individual OH-PAHs and with total OH-PAHs were observed for 2-OH-FLUOR. Children exposed at home to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) had higher concentrations of fluorene and pyrene urinary metabolites compared to those without ETS exposure; and those exposed to gas-based appliances used for cooking or heating water had higher levels of fluorene and phenanthrene metabolites than children not exposed. The use of coal, wood or oil for heating was associated with elevated levels of 1-OH-PYRene. Urinary PAHs metabolites only modestly reflect high molecular weight carcinogenic PAHs exposures such as those monitored in air in the present study. None of the measured PAHs metabolites was correlated with airborne PM2.5and only two were slightly correlated with measured higher molecular mass airborne PAHs. The average concentrations of these specific metabolites in Polish children were much higher than observed in other pediatric populations living in developed countries. Our findings suggest that to capture various sources of PAHs, in addition to 1-OH-PYRene, biomonitoring of PAHs exposure should include 2-OH-NAP and 2-OH-FLUOR.

Concepts: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Hydrocarbon, Aromaticity, Naphthalene, Phenanthrene, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Pyrene


This work aimed to determine the effect of culinary practices on the contamination level and bioaccessibility of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in seafood. The selected farmed seafood species (marine shrimp, clams and seaweed) were commercially available in Portugal. The mean concentrations of PAHs varied between 0.23 and 51.8 µg kg-1, with the lowest value being observed in raw shrimp and the highest in dried seaweed. The number of compounds detected in seaweed and clams (naphthalene, acenaphthene, fluorene, phenanthrene, benzo(b)fluoranthene and benzo(j)fluoranthene) were higher than in shrimp (fluorene and pyrene). Among the PAHs measured, fluorene was the predominant one. There was a significant interaction effect between species and culinary treatment (p < 0.05), thus boiled and dried seaweed samples presented the lowest and the highest levels of fluorene (0.13 and 1.8 µg kg-1), respectively. The daily intake of PAHs decreased with bioaccessibility, varying from 22% for benzo(k)fluoranthene (in raw clam) to 84% for phenanthrene (in steamed clam). According to the potency equivalent concentrations, screening values and bioaccessibility of PAHs, the consumption of marine shrimp, clam and seaweed is considered as safe for consumers.

Concepts: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Seafood, Aromaticity, Naphthalene, Shellfish, Phenanthrene, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons