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Research article2018Peer reviewed

The Role of Spring Flood and Landscape Type in the Terrestrial Export of Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds to Streamwater

Nguyen, Minh A.; Ahrens, Lutz; Gustavsson, Jakob; Josefsson, Sarah; Laudon, Hjalmar; Wiberg, Karin


Concentrations of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs), including 19 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and 15 PAH-derivatives (oxygenated and nitrogen heterocyclic PAHs), were measured in streams in a remote headwater catchment in northern Europe and in more urbanized, downstream areas. Sampling was conducted during 2014 to 2016 and included the main hydrological seasons (snow-free, snow-covered, and spring flood) at six sampling sites. Levels of the targeted PACs varied substantially over time and space and were up to 110-fold (on average 17-fold) and 7000-fold (on average 670-fold) higher for PAHs and PAH-derivatives, respectively, during spring flood compared with preceding snow-covered and snow-free seasons. Higher levels of Sigma PACs were generally found in a headwater stream draining a mire than at an adjacent forested site, with up to 20 times and 150 times higher levels for Sigma PAH and Sigma PAH-derivatives, respectively. The particle-bound PAC levels were positively correlated to surface runoff in the mire stream (Sigma PAHs: p = 0.032; Sigma PAH-derivatives: p = 0.040) but not in the corresponding forest stream, during snowmelt and winter base flow. In more urbanized downstream areas, particle-bound PACs were instead strongly associated with suspended particulate matter (p < 0.05; Sigma PAHs and Sigma PAH-derivatives except one site). Levels of Sigma PACs in the streamwater were on average 3-fold higher downstream of the most densely populated area than at the outlet of the headwater catchment. The higher PAC levels in the downstream water compared to the remote headwater were clearer when normalized to SPM amounts (instead of water volume), with a gradual downstream trend between the sites.

Published in

Environmental Science and Technology
2018, Volume: 52, number: 11, pages: 6217-6225