Identification of Toxicants from a Highly C 10 –C 40 -Contaminated Sediment Influenced by the Wood Industry : Petroleum Hydrocarbons or Biogenic Organic Compounds?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


  • Mari Dahl
  • Suvi Survo
  • Pia Välitalo
  • Grit Kabiersch
  • Olga Sofia Alitalo
  • Olli Pekka Penttinen
  • Anna Lea Rantalainen

Research units

  • University of Helsinki
  • Finnish Environment Institute


Sediment from a log pond located in south Finland contained 15 000 to 50 000 mg/kg dry weight of C-10-C-40 hydrocarbons. It was unclear whether they originated from the hydraulic fluid of the log hoist or the wood extractives. In the present study, methods of effect-directed analysis were used for the identification of toxicants. A combination of fractionation, biotesting, and chemical analyses revealed that the key toxicant of log pond sediment was retene, a dialkyl-substituted phenanthrene derived from wood resin acids. In addition, the most toxic fraction included 3 other wood-originated diterpenic compounds. Typical wood extractives such as sesquiterpenes and odd-carbon number alkanes in the range C-21-C-33 were identified in the fraction, which showed minor genotoxic potency. The most polar fraction contained triterpenes and showed estrogenic activity. No evidence for the presence of hydraulic fluid in sediment was found. The study also indicated that in cases where the organic matter content of sediment or soil is high, using the results of standard mineral oil analysis in risk management can lead to incorrect actions because standard methods do not differentiate petroleum hydrocarbons from biogenic hydrocarbons. Environ Toxicol Chem 2019;9999:1-11. (c) 2019 SETAC


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-946
Number of pages11
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Analytical chemistry, Bioassay-directed fractionation, Effect-directed analysis, Total petroleum hydrocarbons, Toxicant identification, Wood extractives, PAPER-MILL EFFLUENTS, MARINE SEDIMENT, TOXICITY, PULP, MUTAGENICITY, DIRECTED ANALYSIS, IN-VITRO, DISSOLUTION, RESIN ACIDS, DEHYDROABIETIC ACID

ID: 33576273