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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 10 No. 4, p. 444-448
    Received: Nov 1, 1980

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PCBs in the Housatonic River: Determination and Distribution1

  1. B. L. Sawhney,
  2. C. R. Frink and
  3. W. Glowa2



An understanding of the mechanisms for the transport of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as well as their reactions with sediments should help in developing strategies for removal and disposal of sediments in contaminated rivers. We have developed a convenient procedure, based on multiple linear regression of peak heights (or areas) from gas chromatograms, for estimating individual members (Aroclors) for the PCB group of chemicals. Analysis of the bottom sediments of the Housatonic River system along a 20-km section revealed that the sediments contained Aroclors 1248, 1254, and 1260 in the ratio of 1.0:0.6:1.9. PCB concentrations were highly correlated with clay and organic matter, suggesting that fine particles consisting of clay-organo complexes in the sediments may provide a primary means of retention and transport of PCBs. Laboratory sorption of PCBs by clay minerals, humic acid, and the river sediments further substantiate these conclusions.

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