Document Type


Publication Date

January 1982


Small scale, three-phase microcosms were used to study the aquatic fate and effect of a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), benz(a)anthracene. This compound was chosen as a model for carcinogenic PAH because it is a typical constituent of petro-chemical effluents and has middle-of-the-range physical and chamical characteristics. In a series of experiments, techniques were established for monitoring the behavior and for assessing the biological response to the pollutant. Results indicate taht benz(a)anthracene has no acute effect on aquatic organisms as indicated by the parameters used to measure community structure and function (gas productivity, nutrient utilization, biomass accumulation, and species composition). Gas chromatograph/mass spectral analysis of benz(a)anthracene and metabolites in the medium sediment, and biota made it possible to trace the fate of the compound. At the end of one 60 day experiment, 76 percent remained in the sediment, 17 percent had been recovered in the medium, 1 percent was associated with the biota. Of the remaining 5 percent, a portion photodegraded. There was no evidence of metabolism.