A Forensic Assessment of Coal Tar Sealants as a Source of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Urban Sediments

A Forensic Assessment of Coal Tar Sealants as a Source of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Urban Sediments
Authors: Kirk O’Reilly; Jaana Pietari; Paul Boehm
Citation: O’Reilly, K., Pietari, J. and Boehm, P. (2012). A Forensic Assessment of Coal Tar Sealants as a Source of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Urban Sediments. Environmental Forensics, 13:185-196.
Abstract: Atmospheric deposition of particles and their subsequent transport by stormwater are a major source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban sediments. Recently, the results of forensic analysis have been used to promote a hypothesis that refined tar-based pavement sealers (RT-sealers) are another significant source. To evaluate this hypothesis, a suite of forensic methods was applied to a wider range of PAH data for this study. Sediments PAH profiles are no more similar to RT-sealers than they are to a number of other environmental inputs. While RT-sealers were not eliminated as a potential source in some locations, forensic methods did not differentiate their contribution from other sources of PAHs, indicating RT-sealers are not a unique or readily quantifiable source of PAHs to the urban environment.