Distribution, Sources, and Potential Ecotoxicological Risk of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Surface Sediments from Bahía Blanca Estuary, Argentina

  • Ana L. OlivaEmail author
  • Pamela Y. Quintas
  • Noelia S. La Colla
  • Andrés H. Arias
  • Jorge E. Marcovecchio


Thirty-four surface sediment samples were collected from Bahía Blanca Estuary, Argentina, to evaluate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination and ecotoxicity risk by applying sediment-quality guidelines (SQGs) and toxic equivalent factors (TEQ). Total concentrations of 17 parent PAHs, including the 16 United States Environmental Protection Agency priority PAHs, were measured using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, and their levels ranged from 19.7 to 30,054.5 ng/g dry weight. The greatest values were found near the urban/industrial core and decreasing as the distance from that site increased. Molecular ratios determined mixed sources of PAHs with a slight imposition of pyrolitic over the petrogenic inputs. The ecotoxicological evaluation, based on the SQG model, showed that some of the individual PAHs were in excess of the effects range low (ERL) and the effects range median’s threshold; then, predicted occasional (ERL) and frequent adverse effects over the surrounding biota at the area of study were determined. Total PAH levels were expressed as benzo-a-pyrene TEQ and compared with literature data.


PAHs United States Environmental Protection Agency Total PAHs Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Concentration Total Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thanks the staff of the IADO IV research vessel for logistics and cooperation on board. This research was supported by a doctoral grant funded by the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET-Argentina) and was part of the doctoral thesis of A. L. Oliva. This study was funded through research grants by CONICET (Grant No. PIP D-738 2011) and National Agency for Promotion of Science and Technology-ANCPCyT (Grant No. PICT 2010-1302). Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments, which contributed greatly to the improvement of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana L. Oliva
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pamela Y. Quintas
    • 1
  • Noelia S. La Colla
    • 1
  • Andrés H. Arias
    • 1
  • Jorge E. Marcovecchio
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Instituto Argentino de Oceanografía (IADO), CCT-CONICET, Bahía BlancaBahía BlancaArgentina
  2. 2.Universidad Tecnológica Nacional (UTN)-FRBBBahía BlancaArgentina
  3. 3.Universidad FASTAMar del PlataArgentina

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