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Trackdown of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) In a Municipal Sewer System: Pilot Study at the Camden County Municipal Utility Authority (CCMUA)

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A field investigation or Pilot PCB source trackdown study was performed in the sewer collection system of the Camden County Municipal Utility Authority (CCMUA) to evaluate the most appropriate sampling and analytical techniques for tracking down PCB contamination to the MUA collection system and to identify potential upland sources. Innovative field and analytical methods were evaluated including the use of PCB analytical Method 1668a to attain high sensitivity and low detection limits; the quantitation of over 124 separate PCB congeners as a mean to identify unique source signatures through pattern recognition; the use of passive in-situ continuous extraction sampler (PISCES) for sample integration over protracted time periods (14 days); and the use of and electronic data collection system for hazardous waste sites interfaced with a geographic information system (GIS) to facilitate the identification of potential upland contaminant sites as PCB sources. Analytical results from the Pilot Study showed quantifiable levels of PCBs in the CCMUA wastewater at all sampling locations (i.e., both urban and suburban) and in all sampling media (i.e., wastewater and PISCES hexane) potentially from varied sources (i.e., as indicated by differences in PCB congener profiles between waste streams). High concentrations of total PCBs were found in both whole water 24 hr. composites (Mean: 189 ng/l; Range: 33 ng/l to 784 ng/l) and grab samples (Mean: 41 ng/l; Range: 20 ng/l to 82 ng/l). Fourteen day PISCES hexane samples also showed consistent high levels of PCBs in the waste stream, although the results were skewed to the lower chlorinated congeners ostensibly because the more highly chlorinated PCBs tend to adhere to particulates, which do not efficiently cross the PISCES semi-permeable membrane. Potential upland sources of PCBs to the CCMUA collection system, as screened by the DEP HazSite and GIS databases, were tentatively identified as contaminated sites, metal shredders, aluminum smelters, electrical substations, landfills, and area-wide atmospheric deposition.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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