Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4100

Distribution and Transport of Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Associated Particulates in the Milwaukee River System, Wisconsin, 1993-95

By Jeffrey S. Steuer, Sharon A. Fitzgerald, and David W. Hall

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The distribution and transport of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners were determined at various sites on Cedar Creek and its receiving stream, the Milwaukee River. PCB congener distributions were determined in the operationally defined dissolved phase, suspended-particle phase, and surficial bed sediments (0-2 centimeters depth). At most sites, the relative abundances of PCB congeners in the suspended particles and surficial bed sediments were similar to each other, and in some cases, to known Aroclor mixtures (1242 and 1260). Dissolved PCB congener distributions were higher in the less chlorinated congeners as predicted by their lower hydrophobicity and higher solubility. Log partition coefficients for the dissolved and the particle-associated organic carbon phases ranged from 5.0 to 5.8 and 6.5 to 7.5, respectively, for SPCB's (congener summation). Particle-associated PCB's exhibited two patterns: (1) a general increase in spring and summer associated with algal growth and, (2) episodic increases associated with resuspension of bed sediments during storms. Total suspended solids loads in water year 1994 ranged from 8,700 tons at Pioneer Road to 15,800 tons at Estabrook Park. PCB loads decreased from Highland Road (3.7 kilograms) to Pioneer Road (1.8 kilograms) from August 1994 to August 1995, indicating PCB deposition between