Superfund Research Program
Developing and Evaluating Technology to Measure PAH Fate and Exposures
Project Leader: Kim A. Anderson
Grant Number: P42ES016465
Funding Period: 2009-2025
The research group tested a new deployment technology of passive sampling to measure advective flux between sediment and water. Their advective flux efforts will complement their diffusive flux measures. For the first time, the diffusive flux of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was measured across the sediment-water and water-air interfaces concurrently. Results from this study at the Portland Harbor and the McCormick and Baxter Superfund sites will help remediation managers and risk assessors prioritize cleanup efforts and identify potential PAH sources which may undermine those efforts. Additionally, this research showed that PAHs may be transported from the sediment to the air resulting in exposure to PAHs for those living near Superfund sites. This finding highlights the importance of considering the inhalation route of exposure for those who live near sites with sediment contamination. A passive sampling model was constructed to predict the accumulation of 62 PAHs in butter clams, an important food source for Native American tribes of the Salish Sea region. The model in this study was able to predict individual PAH clam concentrations from porewater concentrations within a factor of two, for each PAHs from the edible portion this has never before been demonstrated. This model may obviate the need to remove clams, for biomonitoring purposes, from an already fragile ecosystem. The research group rounded out assessment of PAH by examining the toxicity of an environmentally relevant, passive sampling derived, PAH mixture in zebrafish. Importantly, they showed that the addition model may be sufficient for assessing the summation of developmental toxicity endpoints for these PAH mixtures in zebrafish.