Distribution of Pesticides, PAHs, PCBs, and Bioavailable Metals in Depositional Sediments of the Lower Missouri River, USA

  • Kathy R. Echols
  • William G. Brumbaugh
  • Carl E. Orazio
  • Thomas W. May
  • Barry C. Poulton
  • Paul H. Peterman


The lower Missouri River was studied to determine the distribution of selected persistent organic pollutants and bioavailable metals in depositional sediments. Nineteen sites between Omaha, Nebraska and Jefferson City, Missouri were sampled. This stretch of the river receives point-source and non-point-source inputs from industrial, urban, and agricultural activities. As part of an ecological assessment of the river, concentrations of 29 legacy organochlorine pesticides (OC pesticides), including chlordanes, DDTs, and hexachlorocyclohexanes; a select list of current-use pesticides, including trifluralin, diazinon, chlorpyrifos, and permethrin, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), divalent metals (copper, nickel, zinc, cadmium, and lead), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were determined. Concentrations (dry weight basis) of OC pesticides in the sediments were less than 1 ng/g, with the exception of the backwater sediment collected from the mouth of the Blue River in the Kansas City metropolitan area, which contained up to 20 ng/g total chlordane, 8.1 ng/g p,p′-DDE, 1.5 ng/g lindane, 4.8 ng/g dieldrin, and 3 ng/g endrin. Concentrations of chlorpyrifos and permethrin ranged from less than 1 ng/g to 5.5 ng/g and 44 ng/g, respectively. Concentrations of PCBs ranged from less than 11 ng/g to 250 ng/g, with the Blue River and Sibley sediments containing 100 and 250 ng/g total PCBs, respectively. Concentrations of total PAHs at 17 of the 19 sites ranged from 250 to 700 ng/g, whereas the Riverfront and Blue River sites in Kansas City contained 1100 ng/g and nearly 4000 ng/g, respectively. Concentrations of the metals did not vary significantly among most sites; however, the Blue River site contained elevated concentrations of zinc (104 μg/g), cadmium (0.7 μg/g), and lead (34 μg/g) compared to the other sites. The moderately high concentrations of acid-volatile sulfide in the sediments suggest a low potential for metal toxicity to benthic organisms along this reach of the Missouri River. The depositional area sediments contained concentrations of the targeted persistent organic chemicals and metals that were below published probable effect level concentrations.


PAHs PCBs Endosulfan Chlorpyrifos Kansas City 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Several individuals applied their expertise to this project. The authors appreciate their contribution to this effort—trace organic analysis: M. Tanner, J. Meadows, G. Tegerdine, K. Feltz, and R. Gale; trace metals analyses—M. Walther, J. Arms, and S. Olson for carbon analysis. Also, thanks to those who collected the sediments: D. Gullic, R. Niemeyer, B. Nodine, and C. Wakefield. This work was funded through US EPA and Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Thanks to J. Besser and L. Cleveland for their comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathy R. Echols
    • 1
  • William G. Brumbaugh
    • 1
  • Carl E. Orazio
    • 1
  • Thomas W. May
    • 1
  • Barry C. Poulton
    • 1
  • Paul H. Peterman
    • 1
  1. 1.US Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research CenterColumbiaUSA

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