Source apportionment and seasonal cancer risk of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons of sediments in a multi-use coastal environment containing a Ramsar wetland, for a Caribbean island.


Center for Maritime and Ocean Studies, Chaguaramas Campus, The University of Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago. Electronic address: [Email]


Although polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are toxic pollutants for which some are known carcinogens, there is limited information on the cancer risk such substances pose to the population via marine sediments, despite a significant part of the world's food supply being derived from the coastal environment. This study was conducted in a heavily industrialized and urbanized coastal area, in Trinidad. PAHs were quantified in sediments during the dry and wet seasons and were observed to be significantly higher in the wet season compared to the dry season. Also emerging from this study is that PAH levels were lower, in the areas where natural gas is the dominant energy source for industries, compared with those areas where crude oil-based fossil fuel is predominantly used. Perylene levels were demonstrated to be of biogenic origin near the protected wetland area. It was observed that nearshore sediment PAHs concentrations were higher than offshore levels. The sources of PAHs, identified by Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) in the marine sediments, were vehicular combustion of gasoline and diesel, biomass burning, industrial combustion and oil spills. The mean Incremental Lifetime Cancer Risks (ILCR) due to fish consumption from this region during the dry and wet seasons was >1 × 10-4, indicating a high cancer risk to the human population. The annual non-cancer risk (HQ) was high >1 at the 90th percentile level with an adverse risk to about 14% of the population. These results can be utilized for developing an effective environmental management policy for coastal areas in Trinidad and the wider Caribbean region, given that much of the islands' populations depend on the coastal regions for seafood. In addition, these results may assist in boosting current efforts of policymakers, towards phasing out crude oil-based fossil fuels for cleaner energy sources, such as compressed natural gas.


Cancer risk,Fish,Industrial,Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon,Source apportionment,Urban,