Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Robert J. Huggett

Committee Member

William G. MacIntyre


This work reports the development of an analytical methodology for the analysis of PCB congeners based on integrating relative retention data provided by other researchers. The retention data were transposed into a multiple retention marker system which provided good precision in the calculation of relative retention indices for PCB congener analysis. Analytical run times for the developed methodology were approximately one hour using a commercially available GC capillary column. A Tracor Model 700A Hall Electrolytic Conductivity Detector (HECD) was employed in the GC detection of Aroclor standards and environmental samples. Responses by the HECD provided good sensitivity and were reasonably predictable. Ten response factors were calculated based on the molar chlorine content of each homolog group. Homolog distributions were determined for Aroclors 1016, 1221, 1232, 1242, 1248, 1254, 1260, 1262 along with binary and ternary mixtures of the same. These distributions were compared with distributions reported by other researchers using electron capture detection as well as chemical ionization mass spectrometric methodologies. Homolog distributions acquired by the HECD methodology showed good correlation with the previously mentioned methodologies. The developed analytical methodology was used in the analysis of bluefish (Pomatomas saltatrix) and weakfish (Cynoscion regalis) collected from the York River, lower James River and lower Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Total PCB concentrations were calculated and homolog distributions were constructed from the acquired data. Increases in total PCB concentrations were found in the analyzed fish samples during the fall of 1985 collected from the lower James River and lower Chesapeake Bay. Comparisons between the homolog distribution patterns in the fish samples with the previously mentioned Aroclor distribution patterns suggests a different source of PCBs for different areas. Sediments, oysters (Crassostrea virginica) and brackish water clams (Rangia cuneata) collected from the tidal James River in 1986 were also analyzed. Total PCB concentrations and homolog distributions were calculated for all samples. Sediment total PCB concentrations were relatively constant over the sampling range except in the region of the turbidity maximum which were significantly higher. Total PCB concentrations in the Rangia from the region of the turbidity maximum were the highest of all the biota samples. Rangia homolog distribution patterns from this area were distinctly different from the sediment distribution patterns or the other Rangia distribution patterns in this segment of the river. Alteration of the endemic distribution pattern may be due to physical-chemical processes occurring within the turbidity maximum.



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