This study investigated the distribution of 209 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) congeners in sediment samples collected from 7 sites in the Raritan River estuary (NJ, USA) using a gas chromatography/tandem quadrupole mass spectrometry (GC/MS/MS). Results showed that concentrations of 209 PCB congeners ranged up to 20 ng/g, that total PCB concentrations by homolog groups varied from 9.0 to 327 ng/g, and that total PCB mass ranged from 101.0 to 1,476.3 ng with the order of sites 6 > 7 > 3 > 4 > 2 > 1 > 5. Furthermore, higher PCB concentrations were detected for homolog groups including hexa- and hepta-PCBs. More PCBs were associated with sediments at downstream sites possibly due to accumulation and deposition in estuary, as supported by strong correlations of PCB concentrations between different sampling sites (R2 ≤ 0.96). Comparisons with prior reports showed that all total PCB concentrations were below those reported by Contamination Assessment and Reduction Project (CARP) and Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), except for sites 6 and 7. Sites 3 and 4 had PCB concentrations exceeding the 22.7 ng/g limit of the Sediment Quality Guidelines (SQGs), whereas sites 6 and 7 exceeded the 180 ng/g limit, indicating potential health hazards from PCBs.


  • Sediment samples were collected from 7 sites along the Raritan River for PCB analysis.

  • Concentration and mass of 209 PCB congeners and homologs were analyzed using GC/MS/MS.

  • Higher concentrations were found in sediments downstream and for hexa- and hepta-PCBs.

  • Most total PCB concentrations at 7 sites were below those reported by CARP and DRBC.

  • Sediments at sites 3, 4, 6, and 7 had PCB concentrations exceeding sediment guideline.

Graphical Abstract

Graphical Abstract
Graphical Abstract
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