Examination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in an urban stormwater system and bioaccumulation in Odonata
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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are toxic organic pollutants produced from combustion processes. Associated with urban runoff they have been detected worldwide in urban wetlands. PAH contaminations in wetlands are known to be influenced by hydrology and environmental factors. Because PAHs and their associated metabolites are carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic, they pose significant risks to wetland-dependent organisms. Provided meager scientific data on PAHs in playa wetlands, I investigated the occurrence of 16 PAHs within playa surface water samples and tissues of amphibious organisms (Odonata: dragonflies and damselflies, a flagship group of predatory wetland insects) from seven urban playas along a runoff gradient in Lubbock, Texas. PAH detections from surface water samples were highly variable across sites and dates, with naphthalene and pyrene occurring most often in water samples. Adult Odonata PAH detections were also variable but significantly different from corresponding surface water samples (suggesting bioaccumulation rather than passive chemical exposure), with naphthalene and fluoranthene occurring most often. The number of specific PAH compound detections was significantly associated with percent impervious surface within 300 m of a playa, but not with gradient position or number of inflows. Therefore, results indicate that for urban playas of Lubbock, land-use factors are more important in determining PAH contamination than hydrologic factors.