Date of Graduation

Summer 2017


Master of Science in Geospatial Sciences


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Committee Chair

Robert Pavlowsky


polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, coal-tar sealant, detention basin, geochemistry, Missouri

Subject Categories



Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are organic compounds that can be toxic to wildlife and humans when released to the environment. Coal-tar sealants, which are applied to parking lots or driveways, contribute up to 1,000 times more PAHs than alternative sealants. Over time, these sealants abrade and are transported into drainage networks. Coal-tar sealants are currently used in Springfield, Missouri, however the extent of PAH contamination throughout urban drainage systems is unclear. This study focused on PAH contamination within an urban detention basin on the Missouri State University campus which receives runoff from several coal-tar sealed parking lots. Sediment samples collected within the basin and catchment were analyzed for PAHs, metals, grain size, and organic matter. Findings show that 65% of the samples exceed the defined toxicity limit of 22,800 µg/kg PAHs. Channel sediment collected within close proximity to inlets or outlets contained significantly higher concentrations compared to basin soil areas adjacent to concrete trickle channels. While contaminated depths were typically < 5 cm, high sedimentation areas showed a decreasing trend in PAH concentrations to depths of 25-35 cm. Although toxic levels of PAHs were found in the detention basin, < 1% of PAHs entering the catchment are being stored within the basin.


© Holly Marie Duff

Open Access

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Geochemistry Commons