Baseline and distribution of organic pollutants and heavy metals in tidal creek sediments after Hurricane Sandy in the Meadowlands of New Jersey

  • Francisco Artigas
  • Ji Meng Loh
  • Jin Young Shin
  • Joe Grzyb
  • Ying YaoEmail author
Original Article


The relatively low cost of lands along with a privileged location near an urban center attracted industry to the Meadowlands of New Jersey and the absence of regulations resulted in vast amounts of industrial waste emitted into the air and dumped to nearby estuaries and marshlands. Hurricane Sandy created an unprecedented sea surge that overtopped berms and tide gates and extensively flooded approximately 22.8 km2 of a low lying basin that includes Berry’s Creek, a tributary to the Hackensack River and well known for its legacy of high levels of contamination. The sea surge connected Berry’s Creek with eastern creeks that flow into the Hackensack River for several tidal cycles. The objectives of this study were to establish a baseline for organic pollutants and heavy metals post Superstorm Sandy, determine whether contaminants from highly contaminated areas moved to the eastern creeks during the surge and measure contaminant gradients around tide gates. Cadmium, mercury and chromium were the most abundant contaminants in sediments, and pollutants responsible for the highest ecological risk were Hg and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Concentrations of PCBs were higher in the western creeks and contrary to metals did not show concentration gradients from either side of tide gates. Massive export of contaminants from western to eastern creeks due to the surge was not apparent. The abundance of heavy metals in the vicinity of tide gates shows that they play a role in their distribution across the estuary.


Metals Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) Organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) Tidal creek sediments Hurricane Sandy 



The authors thank Yefim Levinsky for the chemical analysis and manuscript review as well as Sal Kojak for collecting the GPS locations and the MERI Geographical Information System group for making the maps. Inputs from Michael Stepowyj and Sandy Speers are also appreciated. This research was supported by Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute and the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute, Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesRutgers University-NewarkLyndhurstUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mathematical SciencesNew Jersey Institute of TechnologyNewarkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry and Environmental ScienceMedgar Evers College, The City University of New YorkBrooklynUSA

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