Explaining PAH desorption from sediments using Rock Eval analysis

A. Poot, M.T.O. Jonker, F. Gillissen, A.A. Koelmans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Here, we provide Rock Eval and black carbon (BC) characteristics and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) distribution coefficients (KD) for sediments from the Danube, Elbe, Ebro, and Meuse river basins. PAH desorption kinetic parameters were determined using sequential Tenax extractions. We show that residual carbon (RC) from Rock Eval analysis is an adequate predictor of fast, slow, and very slow desorbing fractions of 4-ring PAHs. RC correlated better than BC, the latter constituting only 7% of RC. A dual domain sorption model was statistically superior to a single domain model in explaining KD for low molecular weight PAHs, whereas the opposite was observed for high molecular weight PAHs. Because particularly the 4-ring PAHs are bioavailable and relevant from a risk assessment perspective and because their fast desorbing fractions correlate best with RC, we recommend RC as a relevant characteristic for river sediments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-253
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • polycyclic aromatic-hydrocarbons
  • historically contaminated sediments
  • supercritical-fluid extraction
  • solid-phase microextraction
  • laboratory-spiked sediments
  • soot-like materials
  • black carbon
  • polychlorinated-biphenyls
  • organic-compounds
  • hydrophobic p


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