Changing sources of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans in sediments and ecological risk for nekton in the lower Passaic River and Newark Bay, New Jersey, USA.
The lower Passaic River is an operable unit of the Diamond Alkali Superfund site at 80 and 120 Lister Avenue in Newark, New Jersey, USA. Between 1948 and 1969, the Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Company and its predecessors manufactured chemicals such as pesticides and phenoxy herbicides, including 2,4,5-trichlorophenol, which is a precursor to 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, one of the primary components used to make the military defoliant Agent Orange. A by-product of this manufacturing process was 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD), and the site is considered the dominant source of 2,3,7,8-TCDD to the lower Passaic River and its environs. Several investigators have identified the ratio of 2,3,7,8-TCDD to total TCDD as a fingerprint for the site source. The present study presents data that establish polychlorinated dibenzodioxin/polychlorinated dibenzofuran (collectively, PCDD/F) congener and homolog fingerprints of soil and sump samples from the site. It then compares those fingerprints to the PCDD/F congener and homolog patterns in lower Passaic River sediments. The similarity of the patterns in lower Passaic River sediments to the site fingerprint indicates the site is the dominant source of the 2,3,7,8-TCDD in sediments within approximately the lower 14 miles of the lower Passaic River, excluding, for the purposes of the present discussion, Newark Bay. In addition, PCDD/F congener data indicate that the ratio of 1,3,7,8-TCDD to 2,3,7,8-TCDD is another marker of the site and corroborates the findings from the other fingerprints.