Oil has been extracted from the Northern Peruvian Amazon for over four decades. However, few scientific studies have assessed the impacts of such activities in the environment and health of indigenous communities in the region. We have investigated the occurrence of petrogenic hydrocarbon pollution in soils and sediments from areas favoured as hunting or fishing grounds by local indigenous inhabitants. The study was conducted in one of the most productive oil blocks in Peru, located in the headwaters of the Amazon river. Soils and river sediments, in the vicinity of oil extraction and processing infrastructure, contained an oil pollution signature as attested by the occurrence of hopanes and steranes. Given the lack of any other significant source of oil pollution in the region, the sources of hydrocarbons are likely to be the activities of the oil industry in the oil block, from voluntary discharges or accidental spills. Spillage of produced water was commonplace until 2009. Moreover, petrogenic compounds were absent in control samples in sites far removed from any oil infrastructure in the oil block. Our findings suggest that wildlife and indigenous populations in this region of the Amazon are exposed to the ingestion of oil polluted soils and sediments. The data obtained supports previous claims that the local spillage of oil and produced waters in the water courses in the Corrientes and Pastaza basins could have eventually reached the main water course of the Amazon.

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Keywords Amazon, Hopanes, Oil pollution, Sediments, Soils, Steranes
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.07.208, hdl.handle.net/1765/101567
Journal Science of the Total Environment
Rosell-Melé, A, Moraleda-Cibrián, N, Cartró-Sabaté, M, Colomer-Ventura, F, Mayor, P, & Orta-Martínez, M. (2018). Oil pollution in soils and sediments from the Northern Peruvian Amazon. Science of the Total Environment, 610-611, 1010–1019. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.07.208