Monitoring PAHs in the petrochemical area of Tarragona County, Spain: comparing passive air samplers with lichen transplants
The levels of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were determined in 8 passive air samples (PAS) and 6 lichen transplants (Ramalina fastigiata) deployed for a period of 2 months in different zones of Tarragona County (Catalonia, Spain), an area with an important number of chemical and petrochemical industries. The accumulated amount of the sum of the 16 PAHs ranged between 1363 to 7866 ng/sample in air samples. The highest concentration was found in the neighborhood of Puigdelfí (village of Perafort), in the vicinity of a big oil refinery and well under the potential influence of the petrochemical emissions. In lichen samples, the sum of the 16 PAHs ranged between 247 and 841 ng/g (dry weight), being the greatest value also observed in Puigdelfí. Data on the levels and profiles of PAHs in both passive monitoring methods were compared. A significant positive linear correlation was found between the concentrations of low molecular weight PAHs in lichens and the amounts accumulated in passive air samples (R = 0.827, P < 0.05), being especially significant the correlation of 4-ring PAHs (R = 0.941, P < 0.05). These results strongly suggest that lichens can be used to monitor gas-phase PAHs, providing data that can be quantitatively translated into equivalents for air.
KeywordsPolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) Passive air sampling (PAS) Polyurethane foams (PUF) Lichens samples Biomonitoring Tarragona, Spain
This work has been supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Mineco), through the project CTM2012-33079 and by Mancomunitat d’Incineració dels Residus Urbans, Tarragona, Spain. Noelia Domínguez-Morueco also received a PhD fellowship (BES-2013-066313) from the Mineco (FPI Predoctoral Contracts for Doctors Training 2013), while Sofia Augusto acknowledges the European Union Seventh Framework Programme for the Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship for Career Development (FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IEF-624022). Antoni Sans and Ferran Clua, from the Departament de Territori i Sostenibilitat (Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain), are acknowledged for their assistance in the deployment of PAS.
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