PAH and OPAH Flux during the Deepwater Horizon Incident

Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Jul 19;50(14):7489-97. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b02784. Epub 2016 Jul 8.


Passive sampling devices were used to measure air vapor and water dissolved phase concentrations of 33 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and 22 oxygenated PAHs (OPAHs) at four Gulf of Mexico coastal sites prior to, during and after shoreline oiling from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (DWH). Measurements were taken at each site over a 13 month period, and flux across the water-air boundary was determined. This is the first report of vapor phase and diffusive flux of both PAHs and OPAHs during the DWH. Vapor phase sum PAH and OPAH concentrations ranged between 6.6 and 210 ng/m(3) and 0.02 and 34 ng/m(3) respectively. PAH and OPAH concentrations in air exhibited different spatial and temporal trends than in water, and air-water flux of 13 individual PAHs was shown to be at least partially influenced by the DWH incident. The largest PAH volatilizations occurred at the sites in Alabama and Mississippi at nominal rates of 56 000 and 42 000 ng/m(2) day(-1) in the summer. Naphthalene was the PAH with the highest observed volatilization rate of 52 000 ng/m(2) day(-1) in June 2010. This work represents additional evidence of the DWH incident contributing to air contamination, and provides one of the first quantitative air-water chemical flux determinations with passive sampling technology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Petroleum Pollution
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical*


  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Water