Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 183-199

First online:

Chemometric comparison of polychlorinated biphenyl residues and toxicologically active polychlorinated biphenyl congeners in the eggs of Forster's Terns (Sterna fosteri)

  • Ted R. SchwartzAffiliated withAnalytical Bio-Chemistry Laboratories, Inc.
  • , David L. StallingAffiliated withAnalytical Bio-Chemistry Laboratories, Inc.

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The separation and characterization of complex mixtures of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is approached from the perspective of a problem in chemometrics. A technique for quantitative determination of PCB congeners is described as well as an enrichment technique designed to isolate only those congener residues which induce mixed aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase enzyme activity. A congener-specific procedure is utilized for the determination of PCBs in whichn-alkyl trichloroacetates are used as retention index marker compounds. Retention indices are reproducible in the range of ±0.05 to ±0.7 depending on the specific congener. A laboratory data base system developed to aid in the editing and quantitation of data generated from capillary gas chromatography was employed to quantitate chromatographic data. Data base management was provided by computer programs written in VAX-DSM (Digital Standard MUMPS) for the VAX-DEC (Digital Equipment Corp.) family of computers.

In the chemometric evaluation of these complex chromatographic profiles, data are viewed from a single analysis as a point in multi-dimensional space. Principal Components Analysis was used to obtain a representation of the data in a lower dimensional space. Two-and three-dimensional proections based on sample scores from the principal components models were used to visualize the behavior of Aroclor® mixtures. These models can be used to determine if new sample profiles may be represented by Aroclor profiles. Concentrations of individual congeners of a given chlorine substitution may be summed to form homologue concentration. However, the use of homologue concentrations in classification studies with environmental samples can lead to erroneous conclusions about sample similarity. Chemometric applications are discussed for evaluation of Aroclor mixture analysis and compositional description of environmental residues of PCBs in eggs of Forster's terns (Sterna fosteri) collected from colonies near Lake Poygan and Green Bay, Wisconsin. The application of chemometrics is extended to the comparison of: a) Aroclors and PCB-containing environmental samples; to b) fractions of Aroclors and of environmental samples that have been enriched in congeners which induce mixed aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase enzyme activity.