Reduced bioavailability and ecological risks of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Yangshan port of East China Sea: Remediation effectiveness in the transition from construction to operation

Juan Ying Li, Wenjian Yu, Jie Yin, Yiqin Chen, Qian Wang, Ling Jin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


To assess the remediation effectiveness of ecological restoration in the transition period from construction to operation of Yangshan Port, the largest deepwater port of East China Sea, we employed equilibrium passive sampling and partitioning theory to assess the changing bioavailability and flux of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in relation to bioaccumulation and ecological risks in marine organisms. Due to the ecological restoration efforts, both the bulk and bioavailable concentrations of PAHs in sediment and surface seawater samples decreased dramatically after the port entered the operation phase, as compared with those reported during the last construction phase. PAH concentrations in the marine organisms also showed a dramatic decline, and corresponded to the change in the freely dissolved fractions of PAHs in sediment/surface water according to their thermodynamic potential for bioaccumulation. While trophic magnification of ΣPAHs was observed in the pelagic communities, concentrations of PAHs in benthic species were relatively consistent across multiple trophic levels, and were generally higher than those in pelagic species. The differing bioaccumulation between benthic and pelagic species may be related to the habitat-specific bioavailability of PAHs and the prey-predator relations among different species. The incremental lifetime cancer risks (ILCR) of PAHs in marine organisms also dropped by nearly three orders of magnitude, and were lower than the guideline (1 × 10−6) proposed by the U.S. EPA, except for several species at higher trophic levels. Overall, our study highlights an integrated use of passive sampling and equilibrium partitioning theory as a robust tool that can be applied to assess the effectiveness of ecological remediation in the port environment with quantitative, mechanistic insights from bioavailability to bioaccumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-686
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019


  • Bioavailability
  • Ecological risk
  • Equilibrium sampling
  • Marine pollution
  • Thermodynamic potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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