Part of the book: Biodegradation
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are ubiquitous persistent environmental contaminants generated by natural combustion processes and human activities. PAHs are considered hazardous because of cytotoxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic effects. Sixteen individual PAH compounds have been identified as priority pollutants by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). All substances originated in to the environment by either biogenic or anthropogenic sources. Anthropogenic compounds describe synthetic compounds, and compound classes as well as elements and naturally occurring chemical entities which are mobilized by man’s activities. In the marine environment, the fate of pollutants is largely determined by biogeochemical process. Some of these chemical changes enhance the toxicity of the pollutants. Other chemical changes cause the degradation or immobilization of pollutants and, as a result, act to purify the waters. Possible fates for PAHs, released into the environment, include volatilization, photo-oxidation, chemical oxidation, bioaccumulation and adsorption on soil particles, leaching, and microbial degradation. Elevated concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been found in mangrove sediments due to anthropogenic compounds.
Part of the book: Biodegradation and Bioremediation of Polluted Systems