Distribution and sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and phthalic acid esters in water and surface sediment from the Three Gorges Reservoir

Li Lin , Lei Dong , Xiaoyang Meng , Qingyun Li , Zhuo Huang , Chao Li , Rui Li , Wenjun Yang , John Crittenden


Received June 28, 2017,Revised , Accepted November 06, 2017, Available online November 13, 2017

Volume 69,2018,Pages 271-280

After the impoundment of the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR), the hydrological situation of the reservoir has changed greatly. The concentration and distribution of typical persistent organic pollutants in water and sediment have also changed accordingly. In this study, the concentration, distribution and potential sources of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and 6 phthalic acid esters (PAEs) during the water drawdown and impoundment periods were investigated in water and sediment from the TGR. According to our results, PAHs and PAEs showed temporal and spatial variations. The mean ΣPAH and ΣPAE concentrations in water and sediment were both higher during the water impoundment period than during the water drawdown period. The water samples from the main stream showed larger ΣPAH concentration fluctuations than those from tributaries. Both the PAH and PAE concentrations meet the Chinese national water environmental quality standard (GB 3838-2002). PAH monomers with 2–3 rings and 4 rings were dominant in water, and 4-ring and 5–6-ring PAHs were dominant in sediment. Di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) were the dominant PAE pollutants in the TGR. DBP and DEHP had the highest concentrations in water and sediment, respectively. The main source of PAHs in water from the TGR was petroleum and emissions from coal and biomass combustion, whereas the main sources of PAHs in sediments included coal and biomass combustion, petroleum, and petroleum combustion. The main source of PAEs in water was domestic waste, and the plastics and heavy chemical industries were the main sources of PAEs in sediment.

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