PAH Concentrations in Coquina (Donax spp.) on a Sandy Beach Shoreline Impacted by a Marine Oil Spill

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Coquina, Donax, Pollution, PAH, Oil spill, BP MC252 oil well

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The BP MC252 well failure in the Gulf of Mexico, April 2010 caused concern for crude oil and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) exposure along the sandy beaches of the Florida Panhandle. We began collections of Coquina clams (Donax spp.) from the surf zone of Florida Panhandle beaches to monitor PAH contamination to compliment analysis of surf zone sand samples. These clams had higher levels of PAHs relative to ambient sand, and this allowed us to continue to monitor PAH levels after sand concentrations fell below limits of detection. PAH levels in the Coquina tissues were highly variable, perhaps indicative of the heterogeneous distribution of oil and tar on the beaches and exposure to tar particles. Overall, PAH levels decreased continuously in both sand and Coquina tissues, reaching limits of detection within one and two years respectively after oil landed on Florida Panhandle beaches. Our work suggests these surf zone molluscs may be used to monitor pollutant exposure along high energy sandy beach shorelines.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Marine Pollution Bulletin, v. 83, issue 1, p. 87-91