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Dynamics of PAH deposition, cycling and storage in a mixed-deciduous (Quercus-Fraxinus) woodland ecosystem.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2001
<mark>Journal</mark>Environmental Pollution
Issue number2
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)163-176
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Estimates of standing biomass and fluxes of biomass in a mixed-deciduous woodland were derived, and used with results for concentrations of seven polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in different compartments of the woodland system to quantitatively assess some of the key fluxes and burdens of PAHs in this complex system. We quantified PAH burdens in air, in leaves of three deciduous tree species, in leaf litter and in soil, and uptake of PAHs by the tree leaves; PAH fluxes in litterfall, and deposition to the litter layer on the woodland floor during winter were calculated from these data. Air burdens exhibited marked seasonal variations for all compounds, with lowest values in summer when combustion-related emissions were low. Leaves did not accumulate large burdens of PAHs while on the trees and consequently, litterfall-associated fluxes of PAHs were small, representing only a fraction of the burdens in the litter layer to which they were deposited. Higher PAH burdens in air in winter, combined with the organic-matter-rich nature of the litter layer, are thought to be responsible for fluxes of PAHs to the litter layer in winter being 20–170 times the peak litterfall fluxes. The soil compartment was calculated to contain 25 years' worth of deposition of benzo[ghi]perylene, the most recalcitrant PAH in this study. Storage quotients for fluoranthene, pyrene, benzo[k]fluoranthene and benzo[a]pyrene burdens in soil represented 7–10 years' worth of deposition, while fluorene and phenanthrene storage in soil approached unity with inputs (1 and 3 years' worth of deposition, respectively). The relative importance of storage and loss processes was therefore closely related to the physico-chemical properties of the PAH, and is discussed in relation to the cycling of carbon in the woodland.