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Your Environment. Your Health.

Final Progress Reports: Mount Sinai School of Medicine: Persistent Organochlorines in the Hudson River Watershed

Superfund Research Program

Persistent Organochlorines in the Hudson River Watershed

Project Leaders: Richard F. Bopp (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Jun Abrajano
Grant Number: P42ES007384
Funding Period: 2001 - 2006

Project-Specific Links

Final Progress Reports

Year:   2005 

The goal of this project is to analyze dated sediment cores from the Hudson River watershed and New York Harbor in order to investigate the sources and fate of organochlorine contaminants in these waters. Significant advances were made over the past year in four specific areas:

·          PBDE data interpretation – Initial investigations into these important brominated flame retardants in NY/NJ harbor sediments determined the rate of increase on a decadal timescale associated with increased use of these compounds and found the first evidence that the rate of increase may be slowing. Inputs of PBDEs to harbor sediments associated with the World Trade Center disaster have been characterized, quantified and related to other tracers (fibers, copper, specific PCB congeners).

·          PCBs in sediments of the upper Hudson– Dr. Bopp’s lab discovered significant depositional areas in the Waterford pool that had not been targeted for remedial dredging.  These findings have been communicated to USEPA and NYSDEC and our analyses have been expanded to include trace metals.  Dr. Bopp is confident that this work will result in additional remediation in this reach during Phase 2 of upper Hudson PCB dredging. 

Year 2005 time horizon samples were collected in November, adding to yearly sampling (2002-2005) that will define contaminant transport from the upper Hudson prior to dredging and provide a most significant perspective on the remediation.  The researchers are collaborating on this sampling and analysis with NYSDEC.

·          PCBs in lower Hudson sediments – Analysis of data from well-dated, high sedimentation rate core at Hastings (mp 21.6) provided a detailed history of downstream PCB transport to the NY/NJ harbor.  Effects of the dam removal in the upper Hudson at mp 195 (1973) and PCB inputs associated with the collapse of a wall in a water intake structure at the Hudson Falls plant site (mp 197; 1991-2) have been noted and characterized.  2005 time horizon samples were collected in October at six sites in the NY/NJ harbor along the main stem of the Hudson at in Newtown Creek (our wastewater discharge indicator site). These will be of particular interest for extending the trends in PBDE levels (see above).

·          Mercury analysis – Direct mercury analysis capability was added to our laboratory this summer.  Details are presented in the Program Highlights.


Through a pilot project and other collaboration with Dr. Bruce Brownawell at SUNY Stony Brook, analyses of Dr. Bopps’s samples have been used to study the sources, distribution, and fate of APEs (widely used endocrine-disrupting surfactants) throughout the drainage basin.  Collaboration with Dr. Beizhan Yan at RPI has resulted in analogous studies of PAHs. There are currently three graduate students (two Master’s, one PhD) working at RPI on the PBDE, PCB, and trace metal studies described above.

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