Fluxes of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were investigated along the route of transport in a south German karst system. Atmospheric deposition, seepage water in caves and spring water at the outlet of the catchment were monitored continuously over 1.5 years allowing the establishment of an input/output mass balance at the catchment scale. The results reveal that, even in the highly vulnerable karst catchment, PAHs are effectively retained in the soils. Only during high discharge events, such as snowmelt in spring, increasing PAH concentrations at the outlet of the catchment indicates a mobilization of the pollutants. These events are typically correlated with increasing particle concentrations. Based on our results, we conclude that particle-facilitated transport is the dominating cause of PAH mobilization. In summary, PAHs accumulate over time in soils and only occasionally high discharge events cause a short concentration pulse to be flushed through the karst system.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 2011
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