Waters and sediments from the Potiguar Basin (NE Brazilian coast) were investigated for the presence and nature of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and aliphatic hydrocarbons. The region receives treated produced waters through a submarine outfall system serving the industrial district. The total dispersed/dissolved concentrations in the water column ranged from 10-50ngL-1 for ∑16PAH and 5-10μgL-1 for total aliphatic hydrocarbons. In the sediments, hydrocarbon concentrations were low (0.5-10ngg-1for ∑16PAH and 0.01-5.0μgg-1 for total aliphatic hydrocarbons) and were consistent with the low organic carbon content of the local sandy sediments. These data indicate little and/or absence of anthropogenic influence on hydrocarbon distribution in water and sediment. Therefore, the measured values may be taken as background values for the region and can be used as future reference following new developments of the petroleum industry in the Potiguar Basin. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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