Coal-Tar-Sealcoated Parking Lots: “Hot spots” of PAHs and N-heterocycles to Urban Streams and Lakes Result in “Hot Moments” of Toxicity

Monday, 15 December 2014
Barbara J Mahler1, Peter C Van Metre1, Christopher Ingersoll2 and James L Kunz2, (1)U.S. Geological Survey, Austin, TX, United States, (2)USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, MO, United States
Coal-tar (CT) sealcoat, a potent source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and N-heterocycles, is applied to asphalt pavement of parking lots and driveways in many parts of the U.S. and Canada every 1 to 5 years. We measured the chemistry and toxicity of unfiltered runoff resulting from rain events simulated from 5 hours to 111 days after application of CT or asphalt (AS) sealcoat. PAHs and N-heterocycles were measured by GC/EIMS. Toxicity tests were done with Ceriodaphnia dubia and Pimephales promelas exposed 48 hours to undiluted and diluted (1 part runoff 9 parts control water) runoff under ambient lighting. Organisms were then transferred to fresh control water and subjected to a 4-hour pulse of ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Concentrations of 2- and 3-ringed PAHs and N-heterocycles in CT runoff, initially high (sum of 6 PAHs, 220 µg/L; sum of 7 N-heterocycles, 904 µg/L), decreased rapidly, whereas concentrations of 4-, 5- and 6-ringed PAHs more than doubled by 7 days after application (sum of 9 PAHs, 378 µg/L) and remained elevated 111 days after application (sum of 9 PAHs, 283 µg/L). Concentrations of PAHs and N-heterocycles in AS sealcoated runoff followed a similar pattern, but were ~10 times lower than those in CT runoff; concentrations in a sample of runoff from unsealed asphalt pavement were near or less than the detection limit. Organisms exposed to samples of undiluted CT-runoff collected during the 36 days following CT sealcoat application (no UVR exposure) experienced 100% mortality. Mortality (as much as 100%) of organisms exposed to the 10% dilution of CT runoff or to undiluted AS runoff occurred only with UVR; mortality of organisms exposed to the 10% solution of AS runoff and UVR was minimal. Results demonstrate that freshly CT-sealed parking lots and driveways are "hot spots" of PAH and N-heterocycle contamination and that prolonged "hot moments" of toxicity follow CT sealcoat application.