Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are considered major sources of pollution in water resources and in the environment. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are of particular interest since they are persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, and some of them are listed as potential endocrine disruptors’ compounds.

The occurrence and distribution of 16 priority PAHs of the USEPA were investigated in water resources used for irrigation in Tunisia (treated wastewater (TWW), surface water and groundwater).

The analysis showed that the sum of PAHs ranged from 0.47 to 2.47 µg/L in TWW, from 0.30 to 3.93 µg/Lin surface water, and from 0.12 to 2.80 µg/L in groundwater. PAHs accumulation in water resources showed a temporal and spatial distribution in favor of dry weather and WWTP effluents discharge point. The results show that low molecular weight (LMW) PAHs are the most abundant in all water samples compared to high molecular weight (HMW) PAHs, suggesting pyrolitic sources of production and emission.

The result of this investigation highlights the potential accumulation and effects of PAHs on soils and plants irrigated with TWW.


PAH, surface water, groundwater, wastewater, irrigation.

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