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Characteristics, source, and potential ecological risk assessment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the Songhua River Basin, Northeast China

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The concentration characteristics, sources, and potential ecological risk assessment of 16 PAHs were investigated in the surface water from the Songhua River Basin, Northeast China. A total of 48 river water samples, including 16 from the main streams and 32 from the tributaries, were collected. Samples were separated into dissolved phases and suspended particle matter (SPM) via filtration with 0.47 μm glass fiber filters. Each phase was analyzed for PAHs. The total PAH concentration in the dissolved phase in the water ranged from 32.5 to 108 ng L−1 and from 0.3 to 62.3 μg g−1 (dry weight) in the suspended particle matter (SPM). The total PAH concentration in the main stream was lower than in the tributaries; the volume of annual runoff of rivers had a significant effect on the ƩPAH in the rivers. The 2- and 3-ring PAHs dominated in both the dissolved phase and SPM, indicating a relatively recent local source of PAHs in the study area. The concentrations of PAHs in the Songhua River Basin are lower when compared with the values previously reported in the literature from other rivers around the world. The sources of PAHs were assessed by diagnostic ratios and principal component analysis (PCA), and the ecological risk of the PAHs was assessed based on the risk quotient (RQ). The diagnostic ratios and PCA indicated that the main sources of PAHs originated from pyrogenic and petrogenic sources, and pyrogenic sources had a greater impact. The ecological risk assessment indicated that the PAHs presented low ecosystem risk in the Songhua River Basin.

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This work was supported by the National Grand Science and Technology Special of China (no. 2012ZX07503003-001), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (nos. 40703021, 41625006, and 41250110528), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (nos. KZCX2EW102 and XDB15020401), the Sino-German Center (no. GZ1055), and the Feature Institute Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Comprehensive Technical Scheme and Integrated Demonstration for Remediation of Soil and Groundwater in Typical Area). We also would like to appreciate Professor Bixian Mai’s team at the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, CAS for their help with the laboratory analysis of PAHs.

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Correspondence to Congqiang Liu or Qingjun Guo.

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Responsible editor: Ester Heath

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Hu, J., Liu, C., Guo, Q. et al. Characteristics, source, and potential ecological risk assessment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the Songhua River Basin, Northeast China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24, 17090–17102 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-9057-7

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  • Songhua River Basin
  • PAHs
  • Diagnostic ratio
  • Principal component analysis
  • RQ