Seasonal occurrence, source evaluation and ecological risk assessment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in industrial and agricultural effluents discharged in Wadi El Bey (Tunisia)

  • Imen Gdara
  • Ines Zrafi
  • Catia Balducci
  • Angelo Cecinato
  • Ahmed Ghrabi
Original Paper


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are of great concern due to their persistence, bioaccumulation and toxic properties. The occurrence, source and ecological risk assessment of 26 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in industrial and agricultural effluents affecting the Wadi El Bey watershed were investigated by means of gas chromatographic/mass spectrometric analysis (GC/MS). Total PAHs (∑ 26 PAH) ranged from 1.21 to 91.7 µg/L. The 4- and 5-ring compounds were the principal PAHs detected in most of 5 sites examined. Diagnostic concentration ratios and molecular indices were performed to identify the PAH sources. Results show that PAHs could originate from petrogenic, pyrolytic and mixed sources. According to the ecotoxicological assessment, the potential risk associated with PAHs affecting agricultural and industrial effluents ranged from moderate to high for both aquatic ecosystem and human health. The toxic equivalency factor (TEF) approach indicated that benzo[a]pyrene and benz[a]anthracene were the principal responsible for carcinogenic power of samples.


Agricultural effluents Industrial effluents Water pollution Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) Molecular signatures Carcinogenic risk assessment 

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This work was supported by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Tunisia.

Supplementary material

10653_2018_75_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 22 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Imen Gdara
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ines Zrafi
    • 1
  • Catia Balducci
    • 3
  • Angelo Cecinato
    • 3
  • Ahmed Ghrabi
    • 1
  1. 1.Water Researches and Technologies Center Borj-Cedria TechnoparkSolimanTunisia
  2. 2.Faculty of Science of BizerteZarzouna, BizerteTunisia
  3. 3.National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research (CNR-IIA)Monterotondo, RomeItaly

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