Long-term exposure to polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) has been connected to chronic human health disorders. It is also well-known that i) PAH contamination alters soil bacterial communities, ii) human microbiome is associated with environmental microbiome, and iii) alteration in the abundance of members in several bacterial phyla is associated with adverse or beneficial human health effects. We hypothesized that soil pollution by PAHs altered soil bacterial communities that had known associations with human health. The rationale behind our study was to increase understanding and potentially facilitate reconsidering factors that lead to health disorders in areas characterized by PAH contamination. Large containers filled with either spruce forest soil, pine forest soil, peat, or glacial sand were left to incubate or contaminated with creosote. Biological degradation of PAHs was monitored using GC-MS, and the bacterial community composition was analyzed using 454 pyrosequencing. Proteobacteria had higher and Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes had lower relative abundance in creosote contaminated soils than in non-contaminated soils. Earlier studies have demonstrated that an increase in the abundance of Proteobacteria and decreased abundance of the phyla Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes are particularly associated with adverse health outcomes and immunological disorders. Therefore, we propose that pollution-induced shifts in natural soil bacterial community, like in PAH-polluted areas, can contribute to the prevalence of chronic diseases. We encourage studies that simultaneously address the classic "adverse toxin effect" paradigm and our novel "altered environmental microbiome" hypothesis.
Rising global demand for energy promotes extensive mining of natural resources, such as oil sands extractions in Alberta, Canada. These extractive activities release hazardous chemicals into the environment, such as polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs), which include the parent polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), alkylated PAHs, and sulfur-containing heterocyclic dibenzothiophenes (DBTs). In areas adjacent to industrial installations, Indigenous communities may be exposed to these PACs through the consumption of traditional foods. Our objective was to evaluate and compare the concentrations of total PACs (?PAC), expressed as the sum of the 16 U.S. EPA priority PAHs (?PAH), 49 alkylated PAHs (?alkyl-PAH), and 7 DBTs (?DBT) in plant and animal foods collected in 2015 by the Bigstone Cree Nation in Alberta, Canada. We analyzed 42 plant tissues, 40 animal muscles, 5 ribs, and 4 pooled liver samples. Concentrations of ?PAC were higher in the lichen, old man's beard (Usnea spp.) (808 ± 116 ng g-1 w.w.), than in vascular plants, and were also higher in smoked moose (Alces alces) rib (461 ± 120 ng g-1 w.w.) than in all other non-smoked animal samples. Alkylated-PAHs accounted for between 63% and 95% of ?PAC, while the concentrations of ?PAH represented 4%-36% of ?PAC. Contributions of ?DBT to ?PAC were generally lowest, ranging from
Hazardous substances entering the sea, and ultimately deposited in bottom sediments, pose a growing threat to marine ecosystems. The present study characterized two coastal areas exposed to significant anthropogenic impact - Gulf of Gdansk (Poland), and Oslofjord/Drammensfjord (Norway) - by conducting a multi-proxy investigation of recent sediments, and comparing the results in light of different available thresholds for selected contaminants. Sediment samples were analyzed for benzo(a)pyrene (B(a)P) and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nonylphenols (NPs), organotin compounds (OTs), toxic metals (Cd, Hg, Pb), as well as mutagenic, genotoxic and endocrine-disrupting activities (in CALUX bioassays). In general, a declining trend in the deposition of contaminants was observed. Sediments from both basins were not highly contaminated with PAHs, NPs and metals, while OT levels may still give rise to concern in the Norwegian fjords. The results suggest that the contamination of sediments depends also on water/sediment conditions in a given region.
Background concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in deep core sediments from the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea: A proposed update of the OSPAR Commission background values for these sea areas.
Geochemical studies of 174 sediment cores collected by the MAREANO mapping program in Norwegian waters of the North Atlantic Ocean give new sets of values of background concentrations (BCs) for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) for the studied regions. The study is based on deep core sediment samples representing background levels of PAHs. The samples selected were only from the deeper parts of undisturbed sediment cores with low, stable concentrations of petrogenic and pyrogenic PAHs, with low variation for individual PAH compounds between the samples within the same core, and from below the parts of the cores dated with 210Pb to approximately the last 100-150 years. The results show that the main part of the studied area has BCs different from those previously established by OSPAR Commission (OSPAR) for the North-East Atlantic. Another area in central Barents Sea has a separate set of BCs of pyrogenic PAHs, apparently due to the influence from marginal ice zone mechanisms. A third area with its own set of BCs has been established for north-western Barents Sea off the coast of Svalbard, due to high natural contents of PAHs in this area. BCs for several PAHs not included in the present OSPAR list are also provided.
Oil from the Exxon Valdez laden with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) has persisted on some beaches in Prince William Sound, Alaska, >20years after these beaches became contaminated. The degradation rate of the total PAH (TPAH) is estimated at 1% per year. Low oxygen concentrations were found to be the major factor causing oil persistence, and bioremediation through the injection of hydrogen peroxide and nutrients deep into four beaches in PWS were conducted in the summers of 2011 and 2012. It was found that due to the treatment, the TPAH biodegradation rate was between 13% and 70% during summer 2011 and summer 2012. The results also showed high efficiency in the delivery of oxygen and nutrient to the contaminated areas of the beach. However, the approach has an environmental cost associated with it, and stakeholders would need to conduct a rigorous net environmental benefit analysis (NEBA) for pursuing the bioremediation of submerged contaminated sediments, especially in higher latitudes.
A baseline environmental characterization of Seldovia Bay and harbor on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, was conducted using a sediment quality approach. The data was derived from a larger study that assessed seven distinct water bodies on the Kenai Peninsula's north side, draining into Kachemak Bay or into Lower Cook Inlet. Sampling sites for water quality measurements, sediment chemistry, and benthos were randomized within each embayment. Concentrations of 140 organic and elemental contaminants were analyzed. Habitat parameters (depth, salinity, grain size, organic carbon, etc.) that influence species and contaminant distribution were also measured at each sampling site. Concentrations of chlorinated pesticides and PCBs were uniformly low, with the exception of Seldovia Harbor, where total DDT and PCBs exceeded the lower sediment quality guidelines. Concentrations of PAHs were relatively low, except in Seldovia Harbor where concentrations exceeded lower sediment quality guidelines for PAHs, and in one location approached the upper limit. That concentration of PAHs exceeded all other measurements in the NOAA National Status & Trends database for the entire State of Alaska. Characteristics of the PAH compounds present indicate large contributions of pyrogenic sources (burned fuel and/or other organic matter). Seldovia Bay had much lower PAH concentrations than the harbor.
Baseline characterizations of estuarine sediments in Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, were conducted. Concentrations of 194 organic and elemental chemicals were analyzed in sediment and fish, plus stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen. The estuaries are shallow embayments, with little shoreline relief. The water columns were turbid, high salinity, and not stratified. Concentrations of arsenic and nickel were elevated throughout the region. Arsenic in fish tissue was elevated. Concentrations of PAHs were relatively high for pristine locations, but did not include petroleum hydrocarbons. Characteristics of PAHs indicate large contributions of terrestrial organic matter. With the exception of Peard Bay, all the estuaries reflected the strong influence of terrestrial plant input with low do/oo values for carbon and nitrogen. Chlorinated pesticides and PCBs were uniformly low, but detectable in fish tissue. PCB and cyclodiene concentrations were half that seen in southeast Bristol Bay. Hexachlorobenzene was detected in all fish samples.
We examined the historical deposition of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) recorded in radiometrically-dated lake sediment cores from a small, conventional oil and gas operation in the southern Northwest Territories (Cameron Hills), and placed these results in the context of previously published work from three other important regions of western Canada: (1) the Athabasca oil sands region in Alberta; (2) Cold Lake, Alberta; and (3) the Mackenzie Delta, NT. Sediment PAC records from the Cameron Hills showed no clear changes in either source or concentrations coincident with the timing of development in these regions. Changes were small in comparison to the clear increases in both parent and alkyl-substituted PACs in response to industrial development from the Athabasca region surface mining of oil sands, where parent PAC diagnostic ratios indicated a shift from pyrogenic sources (primarily wood and coal burning) in pre-development sediments to more petrogenically-sourced PACs in modern sediments. Cores near in-situ oil sand extraction operations showed only modest increases in PAC deposition. This work directly compares the history and trajectory of contamination in lake ecosystems in areas of western Canada impacted by the most common types of hydrocarbon extraction activities, and provides a context for assessing the environmental impacts of oil and gas development in the future.
Contaminant bioaccumulation was studied in blue mussels (Mytilus edulis spp.) using the harbor waters of Kristiansand (Norway) as a case study. A suite of chemical contaminants (trace metals, PAHs and PCBs) was analyzed in caged and native mussels as well as in passive samplers (Diffusive Gradients in Thin films (DGT)-devices and silicone rubbers) placed alongside the mussels for estimation of contaminant concentrations in water and uptake rates and bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) in mussels during a six-months deployment period. Estimated logBAFs were in the ranges 2.3-5.5, 3.8-5.2 and 3.2-4.4 for metals, PCBs and PAHs, respectively. Contaminant levels in caged mussels increased rapidly to stable levels for trace metals, whereas for hydrophobic organic contaminants the increase was steady but slow and for many compounds did not reach the levels observed in native mussels. Some key issues related to mussel caging design, such as mussel deployment time and confounding influence from seasonal fluctuations, are discussed herein.
A combined assessment on the levels and distribution profiles of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and trace elements in soils from Pyramiden (Central Spitsbergen, Svalbard Archipelago) is here reported. As previously stated, long-range atmospheric transport, coal deposits and previous mining extractions, as well as the stack emissions of two operative power plants at this settlement are considered as potential sources of pollution. Eight top-layer soil samples were collected and analysed for the 16 US EPA priority PAHs and for 15 trace elements (As, Be, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sn, Tl, V and Zn) during late summer of 2014. The highest levels of PAHs and trace elements were found in sampling sites located near two power plants, and at downwind from these sites. The current PAH concentrations were even higher than typical threshold values. The determination of the pyrogenic molecular diagnostic ratios (MDRs) in most samples revealed that fossil fuel burning might be heavily contributing to the PAHs levels. Two different indices, the Pollution Load Index (PLI) and the Geoaccumulation Index (Igeo), were determined for assessing soil samples with respect to trace elements pollution. Samples collected close to the power plants were found to be slightly and moderately polluted with zinc (Zn) and mercury (Hg), respectively. The Spearman correlation showed significant correlations between the concentrations of 16 PAHs and some trace elements (Pb, V, Hg, Cu, Zn, Sn, Be) with the organic matter content, indicating that soil properties play a key role for pollutant retention in the Arctic soils. Furthermore, the correlations between ?16 PAHs and some trace elements (e.g., Hg, Pb, Zn and Cu) suggest that the main source of contamination is probably pyrogenic, although the biogenic and petrogenic origin of PAHs should not be disregarded according to the local geology.