Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2022 Nov 17. doi: 10.1007/s11356-022-24168-1. Online ahead of print.
Bottom sediments deposited in retention tanks (RTs) located on two urban streams (Oliwski and Strzyza) in the central part of Gdansk (Poland) were analysed for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons’ (PAHs) content. PAHs were extracted from samples with methylene chloride, then the extracts were subjected to clean-up applying the solid phase extraction (SPE) method. Quantitative and qualitative determination of 16 PAHs was performed with the use of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry technique. A multi-dimensional approach was applied to analyse PAHs’ spatial distribution, source, and contamination status. Potential sources of PAHs were verified using isomer ratios supported by a statistical approach. The Σ16PAHs (in mg/kg d.w.) ranged from 1.95 ± 0.64 to 20.4 ± 6.8 for RTs located on the Oliwski Stream and from 0.50 ± 0.17 to 8.6 ± 2.9 for RTs located on the Strzyza Stream. PAHs detected in bottom sediments were mainly composed of 4- and 5-ring compounds. PAH isomer ratios such as Phen/Anth, Flth/Pyr, B(a)A/B(a)A + Chry, Inpy/Inpy + B(ghi)P, Flth/Flth + Pyr, Anth/Anth + Phen, and Flth/Flth + Pyr suggested delivery pathways for biomass, coal, and petroleum combustion. Petrogenic PAHs related to fuel leaks from cars were not detected. Statistical analyses confirmed traffic and heating system sources, while factor analysis (FA) pointed out the abrasion of wasting parts of vehicles. Based on threshold levels presented in sediment quality guidelines (SQGs), in most cases, PAHs were at low levels with occasional negative biological effects on organisms. Only sediments deposited in two RTs located on the Oliwski Stream presented harmful features for sediment-dwelling organisms. The risk assessment performed accordingly to the Σ16PAHs presented a moderate and high risk for biota. This study not only reflects the direct threat related to PAH content in bottom sediments, but also highlights the overall pollution of an area, considered to be a recreational part of the city (Oliwski Stream catchment). The findings of this study highlight the need to launch preventative methods to protect the area against pollution from heating system emission and traffic.