Contaminant Profile: PAHs

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and for short, PAHs. Do you want the technical description of carbon chains and bonds or perhaps something more relevant? Let’s go with relevant and why they are even something that environmental consultants look for. For starters, PAHs comprise a group of compounds that are probably most commonly associated with the use of creosote as a wood preservative, which is most often seen with treated railroad ties and power poles. However, they are also created through incomplete combustion of petroleum hydrocarbon products (i.e. fires).

So why is this a problem? PAHs are highly toxic to aquatic life as they tend to stick to sediment/soil and persist in the environment. A handful of PAHs are also considered carcinogens (cancer causing). So the next time someone offers you a pile of old rail ties that you want to line your garden with, maybe reconsider, or at least put a plastic liner between those ties and your soil!

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17331 – 107th Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta T5S 1E5

Phone: (780) 484-3377
Fax: (780) 484-5093

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Calgary, Alberta T2G 4C2

Phone: (403) 452-1820
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What's New

  • July 13, 2017
    From one of our clients: "Folks at Nichols - I have a few things to say: One is thank you; and YOU GUYS ROCK !! So glad to have you on our team!  We call with emergency and wit...
  • February 28, 2017
    Has anyone ever heard of naturally occurring toluene? By: Anna Durante, Hydrogeologist As we all know, toluene is a highly mobile, water-insoluble, toxic petroleum hydrocarbon compound that ca...

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