Characterization of PAH-contaminated soils focusing on availability, chemical composition and biological effects
Sammanfattning: The risks associated with a soil contaminated by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are generally assessed by measuring individual PAHs in the soil and correlating the obtained amounts to known adverse biological effects of the PAHs. The validity of such a risk estimation is dependent on the presence of additional compounds, the availability of the compounds (including the PAHs), and the methods used to correlate the measured chemical data and biological effects. In the work underlying this thesis the availability, chemical composition and biological effects of PAHs in samples of soils from PAH-contaminated environments were examined. It can be concluded from the results presented in the included papers that the PAHs in the studied soils from industrial sites were not generally physically trapped in soil material, indicating that the availability of the PAHs was not restricted in this sense. However, the bioavailable fraction of the PAHs, as assessed by bioassays with the earthworm Eisenia Fetida, could not be assessed by a number of abiotic techniques (including: solid phase micro extraction, SPME; use of semi-permeable membrane devices, SPMDs; leaching with various solvent mixtures, leaching using additives, and sequential leaching) and it seems to be difficult to find a chemical method that can accurately assess the bioavailability of PAHs. Furthermore, it was shown that PAH-polluted samples may be extensively chemically characterized by GC-TOFMS using peak deconvolution, and over 900 components can be resolved in a single run. The chemical characterization also revealed that samples that appeared to be similar in terms of their PAH composition were heterogeneous in terms of their overall composition. Finally, single compounds from this large set of compounds, which correlated with different biological effects, could be identified using the multivariate technique partial least squares projections to latent structures (PLS). This indicates that PLS may provide a valid alternative to Effect Directed Analysis (EDA), an established method for finding single compounds that correlate to the toxicity of environmental samples. Thus, the instrumentation and data evaluation tools used in this thesis are clearly capable of providing a broad chemical characterization as well as linking the obtained chemical data to results from bioassays. However, the link between the chemical analyses and the biological tests could be improved as as an organic solvent that solubilised virtually all of the contaminants was used during the chemical analysis while the biological tests were performed in an aqueous solution with limited solubility for a number of compounds. Consequently the compounds probably have a different impact in the biological tests than their relative abundance in profiles obtained by standard chemical analyses suggests. The availability and bioavailability of contaminants in soil also has to be studied further, and such future studies should focus on the molecular interactions between the contaminants and different compartments of the soil. By doing so, detailed knowledge could be obtained which could be applied to a number of different contaminants and soil types. Such studies would generate the data needed for molecular-based modelling of availability and bioavailability, which would be a big step forward compared to current risk assessment practices.
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