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Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) Increasing in Urban U.S. Lakes

Congressional Briefing
Thursday, April 14, 2011
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
H-137 U.S. Capitol Building


A briefing hosted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI; Washington, D.C.), was held on Capitol Hill April 14.

This briefing, sponsored by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D–Texas), focused on findings by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban lakes related to pavement sealant use in 40 cities.

Barbara Mahler, NAWQA program speaker for this briefing, presented the USGS findings that highlight major sources associated with increasing PAHs in urban lakes. The findings show, for example, that coal-tar-based pavement sealants are a much larger source of PAHs to urban lakes than previously identified sources, such as vehicle emissions, used motor oil, and tire particles. Also, USGS studies show that levels of PAHs in the dust of residences adjacent to parking lots with these sealants are about 25 times higher than in the dust of residences near other surface types. 

Please click here to view speaker presentation and the briefing video.