Marine sediments around urban areas serve as catch basins for anthropogenic particles containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Using incubations with gut fluids extracted from a deposit-feeding polychaete (Arenicola marina), we determined the digestive bioavailability of PAHs from fly ashes, coal dusts, diesel soots, tire tread materials, and urban particulates. We found that gut fluids solubilize significant concentrations of PAHs from two tire treads, two diesel soots, and the urban particulates. However, PAHs in fly ashes and coal dusts were not available to the digestive agents in gut fluid. Potential digestive exposure to PAHs is much greater than that predicted to be available from these materials using equilibrium partitioning theory (EqP). Amending an already-contaminated sediment with fly ash decreased phenanthrene solubilization by gut fluid. In contrast, addition of tire tread to the sediment resulted in increased solubilization of four PAHs by gut fluid. Therefore, addition of certain types of anthropogenic particles to sediments may result in an increase in bioavailable PAHs rather than a net decrease, as predicted by EqP. Difficulty in predicting the amount of change due to amendment may be due to interactions occurring among the mixture of compounds solubilized by gut fluid.
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