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TitleCharacterizing and quantifying PAHs in the Athabasca oil sands region using compound-specific isotope analysis
AuthorAhad, J M E; Jautzy, J J; Smirnoff, A; Gobeil, C; Savard, M M
SourceSociety of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) abstracts; 2017, 1 pages
LinksOnline - En ligne (full, complet)
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20150444
MeetingSociety of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry North America 36th Annual Meeting
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
AreaAthabasca oil sands region
Subjectsgeochemistry; Health and Safety; oil sands; bituminous sands; carbon isotopes; hydrogen isotopes; lake sediments; pollution; pollutants; hydrocarbons; waste management; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
ProgramCoal & Oil Resources Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Geoscience
AbstractInformed oil sands management strategies demand an accurate understanding of both natural and anthropogenic sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Here, we present results from several recent studies carried out under the framework of Natural Resources Canada¿s Environmental Geoscience Program which utilized natural abundance compound-specific stable carbon (d13C) and hydrogen (d2H) isotope analysis to delineate and quantify sources of PAHs in the Athabasca oil sands (AOS) region. Analyses were carried out in dated lake sediments to provide an important temporal component. d13C characterization suggested a fugitive dust source for PAHs deposited in a headwater lake situated 55 km southeast of the main area of mining operations, and for a predominantly wildfire contribution to PAHs deposited in northwest Saskatchewan lakes located between 100 to 220 km east-northeast of the AOS. The application of both d13C and d2H analysis allowed for an improved delineation of potential mining-related inputs and provided evidence for oil sands petroleum coke (petcoke) in a small lake in the Peace-Athabasca Delta (PAD) situated around 150 km north of the center of mining operations. Using a Bayesian isotopic mixing model, the flux of petcoke-derived PAHs was shown to increase in the last three decades. This research has demonstrated that dual d13C and d2H measurements provide a powerful tool to identify and quantify natural and anthropogenic PAHs in the AOS region.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This study discusses the importance of fugitive dust and as well as an under-considered mining-related source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) emissions in Canada's Athabasca oil sands region: petroleum coke (petcoke), a by-product of the upgrading of bitumen. The proportion of petcoke-derived PAHs, as identified by carbon and hydrogen isotopic signatures of phenanthrene, was shown to increase in the last two decades in a lake located around 150 km north of the center of oil sands mining operations. This implies a long-range (i.e., > 100 km) atmospheric transport of Athabasca oil sands mining-related organic contaminants to sites more distal than previously reported. In lakes situated in Northwest Saskatchewan, on the other hand, the main sources of PAHs are forest fires.