Sivaraman Balachandran | Department of Biomedical, Chemical, and Environmental Engineering
Analysis of riverine sediments offers important information regarding anthropogenic activities in the adjacent watershed. In this study, we provide polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) levels, their possible sources and potential hazards in the Bharalu tributary of the Brahmaputra River flowing through Guwahati city in India. The USEPA's 16 priority PAHs were determined in river bank sediments during two distinct seasons viz. pre- and post-monsoon. The ∑PAHs concentrations varied between 338 and 23,100 ng g−1 during post-monsoon and between 609 and 8620 ng g−1 during pre-monsoon. Mean benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) levels were between 17.8±12 and 21.9±27 ng g−1 during post- and pre-monsoon seasons respectively. Spatial variations were observed. Interestingly, bank sediment samples from the sites near the confluence of the Bharalu River with the Brahmaputra River were found to have maximum concentrations of PAHs during post-monsoon season. The profile of the PAHs was dominated by 3-, 4- and 6-ring compounds. We estimated hazards of PAHs as RQ∑PAHs, which showed seasonal variation: 3 times higher during post-monsoon than pre-monsoon. 3-and 4-ring PAHs were the major PAHs of concern. The Bharalu River sediment was found to pose medium to high hazards to ecosystem. The individual PAHs including Acy, Phen and Pyr were observed with RQ(MPCs) value >1 indicating severe hazards during post-monsoon and pre-monsoon season. A very high percentage of coefficient of variation (CV) for PAHs during post-monsoon also revealed great variation in hazards and sources in this season. The diagnostic ratios indicated both petrogenic and pyrogenic origin of the PAHs. The pyrogenic contributions were mainly attributed to emissions from diesel, gasoline and wood combustion which are mainly from anthropogenic sources.