Source Apportionment and Distribution of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Risk Considerations, and Management Implications for Urban Stormwater Pond Sediments in Minnesota, USA

  • Judy L. CraneEmail author


High concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are accumulating in many urban stormwater ponds in Minnesota, resulting in either expensive disposal of the excavated sediment or deferred maintenance by economically challenged municipalities. Fifteen stormwater ponds in the Minneapolis—St. Paul, MN, metropolitan area were studied to determine sources of PAHs to bed sediments through the application of several environmental forensic techniques, including a contaminant mass balance receptor model. The model results were quite robust and indicated that coal tar-based sealant (CT-sealant) particulate washoff and dust sources were the most important sources of PAHs (67.1 %), followed by vehicle-related sources (29.5 %), and pine wood combustion particles (3.4 %). The distribution of 34 parent and alkylated PAHs was also evaluated regarding ancillary measurements of black carbon, total organic carbon, and particle size classes. None of these parameters were significantly different based on major land-use classifications (i.e., residential, commercial, and industrial) for pond watersheds. PAH contamination in three stormwater ponds was high enough to present a risk to benthic invertebrates, whereas nine ponds exceeded human health risk-based benchmarks that would prompt more expensive disposal of dredged sediment. The State of Minnesota has been addressing the broader issue of PAH-contaminated stormwater ponds by encouraging local municipalities to ban CT-sealants (29 in all) and to promote pollution prevention alternatives to businesses and homeowners, such as switching to asphalt-based sealants. A statewide CT-sealant ban was recently enacted. Other local and regional jurisdictions may benefit from using Minnesota’s approach where CT-sealants are still used.


PAHs Total Organic Carbon Black Carbon Stormwater Runoff Relative Percent Difference 
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.



Staff from 10 Minnesota cities proposed stormwater pond monitoring sites and provided ancillary data. Field work assistance was provided by the following MPCA staff: Harold Wiegner, Alexander Levchuk, Steven Hennes, Mike Walerak, Mike Anderson, Mary Jean Fenske, Dale Thompson, Anna Kerr, Louise Hotka, and Steven Weiss. Other MPCA assistance was provided by Sandy McDonald (QA/QC) as well as Kris Parson and Shawn Nelson (GIS maps). Internal MPCA review of the manuscript was provided by Mark Tomasek and Marni Karnowski. Kerylynn Krahforst (Battelle: Duxbury Operations) coordinated the analytical work for ∑PAH34, Diane Anderson (Pace Analytical Services, Inc.) for cPAHs and TOC, Jim Madison (TestAmerica) for black carbon, and Keith Lodge (University of Minnesota-Duluth) for particle size. Peter Van Metre and Barbara Mahler (United States Geological Survey) shared their PAH source profile files and provided generous training assistance on using the USEPA’s CMB8.2 model. The manuscript benefited from the thoughtful review comments of anonymous reviewers. This project was funded by Minnesota Legislature House File 1231.

Supplementary material

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Minnesota Pollution Control AgencySt. PaulUSA

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