Relative contributions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from combustion sources of wood, petroleum, and coal were computed in sediments from Central Park Lake in New York City (NY, USA) by chemical mass balance based on several reliable source indicators. These indicators are the ratio of retene to the sum of retene and chrysene, the ratio of 1,7-dimethylphenanthrene (DMP) to 1,7-DMP and 2,6-DMP, and the ratio of fluroanthene to fluroanthene and pyrene. The authors found that petroleum combustion-derived PAH fluxes generally followed the historical consumption data of New York State. Coal combustion-derived PAH flux peaked approximately in the late 1910s, remained at a relatively high level over the next 3 decades, then rapidly declined from the 1950s to the 1960s; according to historical New York State coal consumption data, however, there was a 2-peak trend, with peaks around the early 1920s and the mid-1940s. The 1940s peak was not observed in Central Park Lake, most likely because of the well-documented shift from coal to oil as the major residential heating fuel in New York City during the late 1930s. It was widely believed that the decreased PAH concentrations and fluxes in global sediments during the last century resulted from a major energy shift from coal to petroleum. The data, however, show that this shift occurred from 1945 through the 1960s and did not result in an obvious decline. The sharpest decrease, which occurred in the 1970s was not predominantly related to coal usage but rather was the result of multiple factors, including a decline in petroleum usage largely, the introduction of low sulfur-content fuel in New York City, and the introduction of emission-control technologies.
- Contamination history
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)
- Urban lake
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
- Environmental Chemistry