To distinguish between pyrogenic and biological sources of PAHs in a tropical rain forest near Manaus, Brazil, we determined the concentrations of 21 PAHs in leaves, bark, twigs, and stem wood of forest trees, dead wood, mineral topsoil, litter layer, air, and Nasutitermes termite nest compartments. Naphthalene (NAPH) was the most abundant PAH with concentrations of 35 ng m −3 in air (>85% of the ∑21PAHs concentration), up to 1000 μg kg −1 in plants (>90%), 477 μg kg −1 in litter (>90%), 32 μg kg −1 in topsoil (>90%), and 160 μg kg −1 (>55%) in termite nests. In plants, the concentrations of PAHs in general decreased in the order leaves > bark > twigs > stem wood. The concentrations of most low-molecular weight PAHs in leaves and bark were near equilibrium with air, but those of NAPH were up to 50 times higher. Thus, the atmosphere seemed to be the major source of all PAHs in plants except for NAPH. Additionally, phenanthrene (PHEN) had elevated concentrations in bark and twigs of Vismia cayennensis trees (12–60 μg kg −1 ), which might have produced PHEN. In the mineral soil, perylene (PERY) was more abundant than in the litter layer, probably because of in situ biological production. Nasutitermes nests had the highest concentrations of most PAHs in exterior compartments (on average 8 and 15 μg kg −1 compared to <3 μg kg −1 in interior parts) and high PERY concentrations in all compartments (12–86 μg kg −1 ), indicating an in situ production of PERY in the nests. Our results demonstrate that the deposition of pyrolytic PAHs from the atmosphere controls the concentrations of most PAHs. However, the occurrence of NAPH, PHEN, and PERY in plants, termite nests, and soils at elevated concentrations supports the assumption of their biological origin.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2005
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