Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 168, Issue 1–4, pp 205–213 | Cite as

Distribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in marine sediments and their potential toxic effects

  • Sandro Froehner
  • Marcell Maceno
  • Erissen Cardoso Da Luz
  • Daniele Botelho Souza
  • Karina Scurupa Machado


The presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in samples of marine sediments from Paranagua Bay on the southern coast of Brazil was investigated. Paranagua Bay is the location of a major port, one of the busiest in Brazil. The region has a great potential for tourism and port-related industries and activities. Due to its characteristics as a venue for tourism, two major campaigns were planned: one 3 months before the summer (between December and February) and a second after the vacation season. Total concentration of PAHs in sediments ranged from 26.33 to 406.76 ng/g (in both campaigns). The highest values were found in sediments with higher organic carbon content. We found no substantial differences between the two campaigns, and the values are quite similar. Ternary diagrams show that points P5 and P6 were considered polluted, while others were classified as non-polluted. Molecular ratios indicate that the main sources of PAHs are petrogenic and the burning of fossil fuels. Sediment toxicity was assessed by the presence of PAHs in terms of benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) concentration. The toxicity of PAHs mixtures can be characterized more accurately by developing and establishing toxic equivalency factors (TEFs) for PAHs. Considering TEFs, the BaPeq concentrations vary between 0.264 and 5.922 ng/g (considering both campaigns). Thus, two points are above the maximum level recommended (3 ng/g) by the Netherlands sediment quality guidelines. In fact, sites P5 and P6 apparently are exposed to a greater number of pollution sources, thus reflecting the higher concentration of PAHs compounds in sediments.


Marine sediments Toxic equivalency factors Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Estuary 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandro Froehner
    • 1
  • Marcell Maceno
    • 1
  • Erissen Cardoso Da Luz
    • 1
  • Daniele Botelho Souza
    • 1
  • Karina Scurupa Machado
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental EngineeringFederal University of ParanaCuritibaBrazil

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