Using silicone passive samplers to detect polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from wildfires in streams and potential acute effects for invertebrate communities

R Schäfer, Laurence Hearn, Ben Kefford, Jochen Mueller, Dayanthi Nugegoda

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    Silicone rubber passive samplers spiked with 4 deuterated performance reference compounds were deployed for 29e33 days to estimate the concentrations of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in 9 streams in Victoria, Australia, following a wildfire. Silicone rubber strips of 2 thicknesses were used to obtain information on the status of uptake of the chemicals of interest at retrieval. In addition, we monitored the stream macroinvertebrate community for potential effects of PAHs or other fire organics. All selected PAHs were detected in the passive samplers and the sampling rates ranged from 0.5 to 50 L/day significantly varying between sites but not compounds, presumably due to differences in current velocity. The estimated water concentrations were 0.1e10 ng/L for total PAHs with phenanthrene, pyrene and fluoranthene accounting for 91% of the total concentration. All PAHs were a factor of 1000 or more below the reported 48-h median lethal concentrations (48-h LC50) for Daphnia magna. Two sites located closest to the fires exhibited elevated concentrations compared to the other sites and the passive samplers in these sites remained in the integrative uptake regime for all compounds, suggesting precipitation-associated PAH input. No acute toxic effects of PAHs or other fire organics on the invertebrate community were detected using a biotic index for organic toxicants (SPEAR), whereas a non-specific biotic index (SIGNAL) decreased in two sites indicating impacts fromchanges in other environmental parameters. We conclude (1) that silicone-based passive samplers with two different area-to-volume ratios represent a promising tool for determining organic toxicants and (2) that PAHs from wildfires are unlikely to be a common main cause for firerelated ecological effects in streams adjacent to burnt regions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4590-4600
    Number of pages11
    JournalWater Research
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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