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Parameters Affecting Partitioning of 6 PCB Congeners in Natural Sediments


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) released by bottom sediments were determined by experiments in which the sediments were artificially resuspended using sediment contaminated with PCBs in a particle entrainment simulator (PES). Sediment cores, spikedwith PCBs, were collected from the Housatonic River in Connecticut and run in the PES at simulated shear stresses from 0 to 0.6 N m-2. Experimental results from these simulations have shown that mean concentration of PCBs in thesolid phase for sites with high volatile organic carbon (VOC) were significantly greater than samples with low VOC; the reversewas true for the water phase. In addition, on a mass load basis,the amount of PCBs found in sediment increased when shear stresses were increased from 0 to 0.6 N m-2, beyond which shear stress did not affect mass loads in the watercolumn. Partition coefficients (K p) were determined from PESsediment and water data for the following congeners: PCB 28, PCB 52, PCB 101, PCB 138, PCB 153, PCB 180. K p was determined to be inversely proportional to total suspended solids (TSS), butdirectly proportional to chlorine content of the congener. Because of the strong influence of TSS and VOC concentrations onK p values, agitation of samples using a PES better simulatedreal environmental conditions when compared to jar studies where no agitation was employed. Therefore, a device like the PES is more appropriate in obtaining K p that would be found underreal stream flow conditions when compared to the traditionalway of measuring K p using the jar study technique.

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Alkhatib, E., Weigand, C. Parameters Affecting Partitioning of 6 PCB Congeners in Natural Sediments. Environ Monit Assess 78, 1–17 (2002).

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  • K p
  • partition coefficients
  • PCBs
  • sediments
  • resuspension