Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and putative PAH-degrading bacteria in Galveston Bay, TX (USA), following Hurricane Harvey (2017). Academic Article uri icon


  • Hurricane Harvey was the wettest hurricane in US history bringing record rainfall and widespread flooding in Houston, TX. The resulting storm- and floodwaters largely emptied into the Galveston Bay. Surface water was collected from 10 stations during five cruises to investigate the concentrations and sources of 16 priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and relative abundances of PAH-degrading bacteria. Highest PAH levels (102-167 ng/L) were detected during the first sampling event, decreasing to 36-69 ng/L within a week. Four sites had elevated concentrations of carcinogenic benzo[a]pyrene that exceeded the Texas Standard for Surface Water threshold. The highest relative abundances of known PAH-degrading bacteria Burkholderiaceae, Comamonadaceae, and Sphingomonadales were detected during the first and second sampling events. PAH origins were about 60% pyrogenic, 2% petrogenic, and the remainder of mixed sources. This study improves our understanding on the fate, source, and distributions of PAHs in Galveston Bay after an extreme flooding event.

published proceedings

  • Environ Sci Pollut Res Int

altmetric score

  • 7

author list (cited authors)

  • Bacosa, H. P., Steichen, J., Kamalanathan, M., Windham, R., Lubguban, A., Labont, J. M., ... Quigg, A.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Bacosa, Hernando P||Steichen, Jamie||Kamalanathan, Manoj||Windham, Rachel||Lubguban, Arnold||Labonté, Jessica M||Kaiser, Karl||Hala, David||Santschi, Peter H||Quigg, Antonietta

publication date

  • October 2020