Occurrence, source estimation, and risk assessment of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in coastal seawaters from the Quintero Industrial Complex (Valparaíso, Chile)


In the 1960s, the Quintero industrial complex was inaugurated in Chile. This began a history of dramatic anthropogenic impacts on the Chilean coast. Among the known, we could mention high atmospheric emissions of chemicals due to combustion processes and frequent oil spills. For this reason, we surveyed the concentrations of fifteen EPAPAHs in the surface coastal waters of the Quintero Bay area in 2015. The levels found are in the range of the highest levels when reviewing the literature (0.97 μg L-1 up to 9.84 μg L-1). The highest levels were found in the vicinity of the industrial complex and decreased in the other two zones. The concentration of individual compounds significantly exceeds the levels recommended by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the EU water framework directive (WFD). The risk estimations revealed that PAH concentrations represent high-risk for wildlife. Molecular ratios of PAHs were used to identify the possible sources, being these were mainly of pyrogenic origin, agreeing with an origin in the combustion of wood, coal, grass, and fossil fuels. This study contributes to the first data for surface water in a country’s highly impacted industrial coastal area.

Authors: C J Galbán-Malagón, J Zapata, D J Perez-Venegas, R Vargas, N Latorre-Padilla, T Luarte, C Ahrendt, A Hirmas-Olivares, V Gómez-Aburto, P Tapia, V Isamit, P Arce, C Sánchez, K Pozo
; Full Source: The Science of the total environment 2023 Mar 21;162957. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162957.