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Sedimentary Record of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Trieste (Northern Adriatic Sea)

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Abstract

To reconstruct a history of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) pollution in the Gulf of Trieste, one of the largest urbanized areas in the Adriatic Sea, we analyzed three long sediment cores collected between 1996 and 1997. Concentrations of total PAHs, the sum of 16 PAH compounds and six of their methylated analogues, in all three cores show a decrease from 600–800 ng g−1, at the surface, to levels below 250 ng g−1 in deepest layers (down to 3 m). The same trend was shown with separate representative pyrogenic PAHs (pyrene, benzofluoranthene and phenanthrene). Using Hg as a recent geochronological tracer, we observe an increasing input of PAHs since the beginning of the 20th Century and, especially, after the Second World War coinciding with increasing industrialization and urbanization of the region. This correlation is supported by PAH ratios that are indication of combustion processes and represent a marker for anthropogenic inputs. No correlation exists between PAHs and black carbon within the core profiles, indicating two different fractions of the ‘black carbon continuum’.

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Acknowledgements

The financial support of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport (Project P1-0143) are acknowledged. The authors are thankful to Mrs. Silva Perko for her technical support and assistance.

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Correspondence to Ester Heath.

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Heath, E., Ogrinc, N., Faganeli, J. et al. Sedimentary Record of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Trieste (Northern Adriatic Sea). Water Air Soil Pollut: Focus 6, 605–614 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11267-006-9045-2

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Keywords

  • Gulf of Trieste
  • pollution
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • sediment cores