Frontiers of Earth Science

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 33–42 | Cite as

The distribution and sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in shallow groundwater from an alluvial-diluvial fan of the Hutuo River in North China

  • Jincui WangEmail author
  • Yongsheng Zhao
  • Jichao Sun
  • Ying Zhang
  • Chunyan Liu
Research Article


This paper has investigated the concentration and distribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in shallow groundwater from an alluvial-diluvial fan of the Hutuo River in North China. Results show that the concentration levels of 16 priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons range from 0 to 92.06 ng/L, do not conform to drinking water quality standards in China (GB 5749- 2006). However, the concentration figures of priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are much lower than that of other studies conducted elsewhere in China. In addition, highly-concentrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (50–92 ng/L) are fragmentarily distributed. The composition of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from this study indicates that low molecular polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are predominant in groundwater samples, medium molecular compounds occur at low concentrations, and high molecular hydrocarbons are not detected. The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon composition in groundwater samples is basically the same as that of gaseous samples in the atmosphere in this study. Therefore, the atmospheric input is assumed to be an important source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, no less than wastewater discharge, adhesion on suspended solids, and surface water leakage. Ratios of specific polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons demonstrate that they mainly originate from wood or coal combustion as well as natural gas and partially from petroleum according to the result of principal component analysis. On the whole, conclusions are drawn that the contamination sources of these polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are likely petrogenic and pyrolytic inputs. Future investigations by sampling topsoil, vadose soil, and the atmosphere can further verify aforementioned conclusions.


polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons unconsolidated sedimentary aquifers groundwater protection hydrochemistry North China 


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The authors would like to extend acknowledgement to reviewers and the associate editor for their comments and thorough review of the manuscript. This research was supported by the China Geological Survey Grant (121201106000150006), Key Laboratory of Groundwater Remediation of Hebei Province and China Geological Survey.


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jincui Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yongsheng Zhao
    • 1
  • Jichao Sun
    • 2
  • Ying Zhang
    • 2
  • Chunyan Liu
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Environment and ResourcesJilin UniversityChangchunChina
  2. 2.Institute of Hydrogeology and Environmental GeologyChinese Academy of Geological SciencesShijiazhuangChina

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