Partitioning of fluoranthene between free and bound forms in stormwater runoff and other urban discharges using passive dosing

Heidi Birch, Philipp Mayer, Hans-Christian Holten Lützhøft, Peter Steen Mikkelsen

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Partitioning of fluoranthene in stormwater runoff and other urban discharges was measured by a new analytical method based on passive dosing. Samples were collected at the inlet (n = 11) and outlet (n = 8) from a stormwater retention pond in Albertslund (Denmark), and for comparison samples were also obtained at a municipal wastewater treatment plant, a power plant, a contaminated site and a waste deposit in Copenhagen (n = 1 at each site). The freely dissolved concentration of 14C-fluoranthene in the samples was controlled by equilibrium partitioning from a pre-loaded polymer and the total sample concentration measured. The measurements yielded free fractions of fluoranthene in stormwater in the range 0.04–0.15 in the inlet during the first part of the runoff events increasing to 0.3–0.5 at the end of the events and in the outlet from the retention pond. The enhanced capacity of the different stormwater samples for carrying fluoranthene was 2–23 relative to pure water and decreasing during rain events. The enhanced capacity of stormwater showed a different relationship with suspended solid concentrations than the other types of urban discharges. Partitioning of fluoranthene to dissolved organic carbon was lower than partitioning to particulate organic carbon. Partitioning of fluoranthene to particulate organic matter in the 19 stormwater samples yielded a log KPOM of 5.18. The presented results can be used in stormwater quality modeling and assessment of efficiency of stormwater treatment systems. This work also shows the potential of the passive dosing method to obtain conversion factors between total concentrations, which are needed for comparison with water quality criteria, and freely dissolved concentrations, which are more related to toxicity and obtained by the use of most passive samplers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Issue number18
Pages (from-to)6002-6012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Passive dosing
  • Stormwater runoff
  • Sorption
  • Partition ratio
  • Free fraction
  • Poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)

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