Thirty two polychlorinated biphenyl congeners (PCBs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and pentachlorobenzene (PeCB) were analysed in passive sampler extracts from surface water-exposed semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs) and in bed sediment samples from a small urban watercourse, the River Alna (Oslo, Norway). Performance reference compound-corrected data from the passive samplers deployed at three sites along the river were used to track PCB contamination in the overlying water. SPMDs were able to detect an increase in dissolved PCB concentrations at the site furthest downstream that was corroborated by bed sediment concentrations. In comparison, no major increase in concentration of HCB, PeCB or PAHs could be observed. Comparison of passive sampling-based overlying water concentrations with total concentrations measured in bed sediments supports the possibility of further PCB sources upstream of the study area. Diagnostic PAH ratios (from SPMDs) and PCB congener pattern (from sediments) were used in an attempt to identify possible contaminant sources to the Alna River. Selected PAH diagnostic ratios support a multiple emission source scenario and demonstrate the complexity of identifying specific sources of these compounds to surface waters. PCB congener patterns in sediments from all three sites tend to indicate a source of highly chlorinated PCBs (of the Archlor 1260 type) and either a source of lower chlorinated PCBs or the less-likely occurrence of dechlorination in sediment. Information collected during the present screening study also confirms the Alna River as a continuous source of PCBs to the Oslofjord.
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