Sources and seasonal variation of PAHs in the sediments of drinking water reservoirs in Hong Kong and the Dongjiang River (China)

Yan Liang*, Pui Ka Fung, Man Fung Tse, Hua Chang Hong, Ming Hung WONG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The main objective of this study was to investigate occurrence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the sources of the drinking water supply of Hong Kong. The main emphasis was on the Dongjiang River in mainland China which is the major source, supplying 80% of the total consumption in Hong Kong (the remaining 20% is obtained from rain water). Sediments were collected from four sites along the Dongjiang River and four reservoirs in Hong Kong during both the dry and wet weather seasons. The concentrations of total PAHs in the sediments ranged between 36 and 539 μg/kg dry wt. The lower levels were detected at the upstream site on the Dongjiang River and at the reservoirs in Hong Kong (44-85 μg/kg dry wt), while the mid- and downstream sites on the Dongjiang River were more polluted (588-658 μg/kg dry wt). Examination of the PAH profiles revealed that the mid- and downstream sections of the Dongjiang River contained high percentages of 4,5,6-ring PAHs, similar to the amounts of atmospheric particulate matter and road dust collected during the dry weather season from the Pearl River Delta region as reported in the literature. Seasonal changes were revealed in the reservoirs of Hong Kong, with higher PAH levels in the wet weather season than in the dry weather season. For those reservoirs in Hong Kong that store water from the Dongjiang River, a distinct seasonal pattern was also observed, namely, that under dry weather season conditions the PAHs found in the sediments were primarily from petrogenic source, while under wet weather season conditions they were from pyrolytic sources. No such pattern was detected in the reservoirs which stored only rain water.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-50
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Atmospheric deposition
  • Dongjiang River
  • Pearl River Delta Region
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Urban runoff


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