Superfund Research Program
Persistent Organochlorines in the Hudson River Watershed
Project Summary (2001-2006)The manufacture and use of PCBs, DDT and other persistent chlorinated hydrocarbons has ceased in the United States. However, large quantities of these toxic compounds remain dispersed in the environment where their distribution and fate are imperfectly characterized. Moreover, additional PCBs and other organochlorines continue to be added to the environment, particularly to natural waters where they contaminate the sediments and can be taken up by fish and then by humans.
To investigate the sources and fate of organochlorine contaminants in the natural waters of the Hudson watershed, analyses of dated sediment core sections is being performed. Previous results defined several areas of particular focus. A major source of chlordane to western NY/NJ harbor will be traced into the Hackensack and Passaic River watersheds. Chlordane is a significant contaminant of fish in this area and its residues have been found at elevated levels in local anglers (project 5). DDT-derived compounds will be measured in soils from urban parks. Data from Central Park Lake sediments suggests that very high levels will be found. The in situ reductive dechlorination of PCBs in Hudson River sediments will be investigated using stable chlorine isotope ratios. Researchers believe this will be the first application of this powerful technique to the study of PCBs.
This project will also involve interpretation of fish contaminant level data from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that will produce a strong tie to project 5, the urban anglers study. Extracts of representative sediments will be supplied for use in biomedical projects 2 and 3. Study of dioxin sources will link us closely to the EPA Superfund investigation of 80 Lister Avenue on the lower Passaic River. The closest collaboration will be with project 6 which will provide the trace metal component of our multi-contaminant approach to persistent pollution in the Hudson watershed. Sediment sample collections are being done jointly with scientists from project 6 and from the NYSDEC and all samples will be shared.