State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project Id: 2010RI88B
Title: Influx of petroleum hydrocarbons to impermeable surfaces and surface water
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2010
End Date: 2/28/2011
Congressional District: 2
Focus Categories: Water Quality, Surface Water, Non Point Pollution
Keywords: Organic contaminants, PAH, non-point source pollution, surface water pollution
Principal Investigator: Boving, Tom
Federal Funds: $ 10,500
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 21,078
Abstract: Storm water runoff around the United States and most other developed countries contains elevated concentrations of a variety of contaminants, including petroleum hydrocarbons. An important, but little investigated source of these contaminants is influx from atmospheric sources. These hydrocarbons accumulate on impermeable surfaces, such as parking lots, and together with "conventional", automotive derived hydrocarbon contamination, eventually wash off into surface- and ground water. Currently, we do not have a firm understanding how significant this atmospheric influx is relative to other pollution sources and what is the effect on water quality and quantity. We therefore propose to install a time-integrated atmospheric bulk-deposition sampler on the URI campus and tie it into a Stormwater Treatment Demonstration facility that has received preliminary approval from the RI Department of Transportation. The principal goal is to quantify the bulk deposition rates of a particularly important class of petroleum hydrocarbons, i.e. PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) relative to non-ATM sources. We already field-validated the sampler based on methods developed in Germany, where this system is the accepted national standard for quantifying atmospheric bulk deposition rates. Hence, we can immediately start measuring the PAH deposition rates in RI and can directly compare them to data sets from Europe. We view the introduction of a PAH deposition sampler system to Rhode Island as a significant contribution to the better understanding of atmospheric contaminant influx and its impact on surface water quality. Also, this project provides students with an opportunity to get involved in this timely line of research.

Progress/Completion Report, 2010, PDF

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