Article

Polychlorinated biphenyls in the surficial sediment of Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal, Lake Michigan

Department of Applied Environmental Science, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Environment international (Impact Factor: 5.66). 11/2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2009.01.015

ABSTRACT We report the results of the first intensive survey of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the surficial sediment of the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal (IHSC) in East Chicago, Indiana, a part of the Calumet River tributary of Lake Michigan that will be dredged to maintain depth for ship traffic. The tributary has previously been reported to be a large source of PCBs to Lake Michigan. PCB congeners were measured using tandem mass spectrometry in multiple reaction monitoring mode, a method that provides a high level selectivity and sensitivity for PCBs in complex environmental samples. The PCB concentrations (sum of 163 congeners or coeluting peaks) range from 53 to 35,000 ng g− 1 dry weight (d.w.) and are comparable to other PCB concentrations at contaminated tributaries in the United States, most of them (although not IHSC) established by law as Superfund sites. The PCB congener signal strongly resembles the original technical mixture Aroclor 1248 that has experienced a small amount of weathering — less than 2.5% by mass for the statistically different congeners — consistent with desorption, volatilization, and microbial dechlorination. The origin of the PCBs in IHSC is not known but Aroclor 1248 was used in hydraulic fluids, vacuum pumps, plasticizers and adhesives. Possible uses of this mixture in East Chicago included the equipment and auxiliary services for the adjacent steel mill and gas refinery and/or lubrication for the drawbridges spanning the canal.

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