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Collection and analysis of samples for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in dust and other solids related to sealed and unsealed pavement from 10 cities across the United States, 2005-07

October 2, 2008

Parking lots and driveways are dominant features of the modern urban landscape, and in the United States, sealcoat is widely used on these surfaces. One of the most widely used types of sealcoat contains refined coal tar; coal-tar-based sealcoat products have a mean polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentration of about 5 percent. A previous study reported that parking lots in Austin, Texas, treated with coal-tar sealcoat were a major source of PAH compounds in streams. This report presents methods for and data from the analysis of concentrations of PAH compounds in dust from sealed and unsealed pavement from nine U.S. cities, and concentrations of PAH compounds in other related solid materials (sealcoat surface scrapings, nearby street dust, and nearby soil) from three of those same cities and a 10th city. Dust samples were collected by sweeping dust from areas of several square meters with a soft nylon brush into a dustpan. Some samples were from individual lots or driveways, and some samples consisted of approximately equal amounts of material from three lots. Samples were sieved to remove coarse sand and gravel and analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Concentrations of PAHs vary greatly among samples with total PAH (sigmaPAH), the sum of 12 unsubstituted parent PAHs, ranging from nondetection for all 12 PAHs (several samples from Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington; sigmaPAH of less than 36,000 micrograms per kilogram) to 19,000,000 micrograms per kilogram for a sealcoat scraping sample (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). The largest PAH concentrations in dust are from a driveway sample from suburban Chicago, Illinois (sigmaPAH of 9,600,000 micrograms per kilogram).