Congener profiles of polychlorinated biphenyls and the effect on marine mussels at an outfall site, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
This study investigated the effect of freshwater as a point source of PCBs contributing to a marine outfall region. Inflowing and outflowing water from the North End Lake, Port Elizabeth, was collected to determine the contamination levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Mussels at the outflow to the sea were also sampled. The samples were analysed by an internal standard method for 6 indicator PCB congeners using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) in selected ion monitoring (SIM) mode. The total PCB concentrations in the water (dissolved plus particulate phases) ranged from 0.180 to 0.355 ng∙L-1 and from 20.84 to 31.34 ng∙g-1 wet weight (ww) in mussels. Lighter PCB congeners exhibited highest concentrations in the water samples while heavier PCBs were dominant in mussels. PCB-52 was the most abundant in the water samples while PCB-153 was abundant in mussels. To protect human health from the possible effects of eating fish and shellfish contaminated with PCBs, the Environmental Protection Agency regulates that the level of PCBs in water be no greater than 0.17 ng∙L-1 of water. The levels of PCBs in water from the North End Lake were found to be high (0.180 – 0.355 ng∙L-1) compared to the levels recommended by EPA.
Keywords: dissolved phase, GC/MS, North End Lake, particulate phase, sedentary organisms