Chemical (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon – PAH and heavy metal) levels in stormwater and sediment samples collected from the London Orbital (M25) motorway drainage dry detention pond at Oxted, Surrey, UK were determined. Such chemicals are derived from vehicular combustion products and the wear and tear materials deposited onto the motorway surface. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was used for the qualitative and quantitative determination of 16 USEPA priority PAHs in motorway drainage sediments. The GC-MS method, incorporating a solid phase extraction step, provides detection limits ranging from 0.17 to 0.41 mg kg−1
(dry weight). Almost all of the 16 USEPA listed PAHs were detected. Phenanthrene, fluoranthene, pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(a)pyrene and benzo(g,h,i)perylene (PAH numbers 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13 and 16) were among the PAHs found at “higher” levels (ranging from 0.3–10.2 mg kg−1, dry weight) in the sediment samples. PAH levels show little change along the motorway drainage silt trap (facility for reducing the levels of suspended particulate matter in the stormwater). PAH concentrations are considerably higher in the dry detention pond outflow interceptor. Statistical analysis showed that significant correlation coefficients (based on a t-test at the 95% confidence interval) were obtained between those PAHs found at high concentrations over all of the sampling sites. Several PAHs were dispersed beyond the treatment facility and accumulation in the sediment of the deer park resulted in levels ranging from 0.3–1.6 mg kg−1, dry weight. These PAHs found beyond the treatment facility (in the local farm deer park) may contribute a serious health threat to farm animals or even fish in the aquatic environment. Heavy metal levels (V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Mo, Cd, Sb and Pb) of the drainage stormwater and sediments were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), with quality control evaluation using two certified reference materials. Typical detection limits were found to be below 0.1 µg l−1 for stormwater and 0.005 mg kg−1 for acid digested sediments. Raised heavy metal levels were found throughout the dry detention pond facility and only decrease when the stormwater is diluted following discharge into the river Eden. Statistical analysis also confirms that some significant correlations exist between various heavy metals and PAHs. However, no overall conclusive trend is found indicating that a particular PAH is deposited in sediment relative to a specific heavy metal/s. These results raise some serious concerns about the dispersion and accumulation of chemicals in the sediments of motorway stormwater drainage systems and the need for maintenance and clean-up of contaminated material from such systems.