The distribution and toxicity levels of 16 EPA priority pollutant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the sediments of Asaluyeh shore, Iran were investigated. The total concentrations of the PAHs in surface sediments ranged from 1,054 to 17,448 ng/g dry weights with a mean concentration of 8,067 ng/g. The spatial distribution of PAHs showed that PAH levels are much higher in the industrial areas in comparison with urban areas. Based on diagnostic ratios, pyrogenic activities were dominant sources of PAHs pollution in sediments comparing petroleum sources. The toxic equivalent concentrations (TEQ Carc) of PAHs ranged from 172 to 2,235 ng TEQ/g with mean value of 997.9. Toxicity levels were evaluated using sediment quality guidelines (SQGs) and toxic equivalent factors. Samples were collected from industrial and urban stations in Asaluyeh shores. According to SQGs, ΣPAHs concentrations in sediments of urban areas were below the ERL (effects range low), but the industrial samples had ΣPAHs concentrations between ERL and ERM (effects range median). Furthermore, ΣHPAHs (heavy PAHs) and some individual PAHs in some industrial stations exceeded ERM, indicating adverse ecological risk effects frequently occur. Findings demonstrate that the surface sediment from Asaluyeh shore is highly to very highly contaminated with PAHs.

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