Distribution, characterization, and exposure of MC252 oil in the supratidal beach environment

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The distribution and characteristics of MC252 oil:sand aggregates, termed surface residue balls (SRBs), were measured on the supratidal beach environment of oil-impacted Fourchon Beach in Louisiana (USA). Probability distributions of 4 variables, surface coverage (%), size of SRBs (mm(2) of projected area), mass of SRBs per m(2) (g/m(2)), and concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and n-alkanes in the SRBs (mg of crude oil component per kg of SRB) were determined using parametric and nonparametric statistical techniques. Surface coverage of SRBs, an operational remedial standard for the beach surface, was a gamma-distributed variable ranging from 0.01% to 8.1%. The SRB sizes had a mean of 90.7 mm(2) but fit no probability distribution, and a nonparametric ranking was used to describe the size distributions. Concentrations of total PAHs ranged from 2.5 mg/kg to 126 mg/kg of SRB. Individual PAH concentration distributions, consisting primarily of alkylated phenanthrenes, dibenzothiophenes, and chrysenes, did not consistently fit a parametric distribution. Surface coverage was correlated with an oil mass per unit area but with a substantial error at lower coverage (i.e., <2%). These data provide probabilistic risk assessors with the ability to specify uncertainty in PAH concentration, exposure frequency, and ingestion rate, based on SRB characteristics for the dominant oil form on beaches along the US Gulf Coast.

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Environmental toxicology and chemistry

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