Monitoring for PCBs

At the request of the three estuary states and the U.S. EPA, DRBC has taken the lead in developing the technical basis for PCB Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the Delaware Estuary (DRBC WQ Zones 2-6). The PCB TMDL for Zones 2-5 was established in 2003 (pdf 1.8 MB) and for Zone 6 in 2006 (pdf 858 KB). DRBC staff worked closely with the commission's Toxics Advisory Committee (TAC), an expert panel of scientists, and its TMDL Implementation Advisory Committee (IAC) on these efforts. To support TMDL implementation, DRBC monitors ambient waters, sediment, and fish tissue to provide precise and defensible data on PCB concentrations in the Delaware Estuary.

In 2013, DRBC adopted updated water quality criterion of 16 picograms/liter for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the Delaware Estuary and Bay for the protection of human health from carcinogenic effects. This number, based upon the most current methodology and scientific data available, is now a uniform value for the entire Delaware Estuary and Bay (DRBC Water Quality Zones 2-6). The updated PCB criterion was developed under the guidance of the TAC. With DRBC's adoption of revised PCB criterion, it is anticipated that the U.S. EPA will establish new TMDLs (Stage 2 TMDLs) corresponding to the updated criterion.

Summary of Sampling and Analytical Requirements

In order to better characterize loadings of PCBs to the estuary and to develop and calibrate the additional PCB homolog models, additional data must be collected. Point source discharges are one of the several PCB source categories being evaluated as part of this effort.

The following information has been assembled to assist permittees in completing their PCB sampling requirements:

  1. Analysis will be conducted utilizing DRBC project-specific modifications (pdf 125 KB; revised 2/3/05*) of U.S. EPA Method 1668, Revision A (pdf 688 KB)
  2. Sample Labeling and Identification Protocols (pdf 50 KB)
  3. Sample Size:
    1. Two 2-liter (nominal)** samples to be collected in PCB proofed amber glass jars***
    2. The entire volume of one 2-liter amber glass jar will be extracted for analysis. The second jar will be archived for possible future analysis.
  4. Sample collection techniques (pdf 65 KB)
  5. Analysis will conducted for 209 PCB congeners (pdf 25 KB) utilizing the following data qualifier flags (pdf 5 KB) and convention for reporting coeluting congeners (pdf 36 KB)
  6. Sample extracts will be concentrated to 20 ul
  7. Analysis will be conducted utilizing a SPB-octyl column
  8. Calibration will consist of a minimum of five levels utilizing a 0.5 ng/ml standard for the low concentration calibration
  9. Sample must meet method blank contamination decision rules (pdf 30 KB)
  10. Sample must meet rinsate blank contamination decision rules (pdf 60 KB)
  11. Results must be reported to the Estimated Detection Limit (EDL) (pdf 7 KB)
  12. Results are to be reported utilizing a common Electronic Data Deliverable (EDD) (pdf 41 KB; revised 1/13/2009****) and hardcopy data deliverable protocols (pdf 104 KB; revised 2/18/2005*****)

* Storage temperature is now <6°C and preservation with sulfuric acid has been removed.
** In some instances, collection of precisely a 2-liter volume may not be possible. If the sample size falls below 2 liters, the Estimated Detection Limits (EDLs) will become elevated above project objectives. If the volume exceeds 2 liters, the additional volume poses difficulties in extracting the sample properly. The sample size collected can acceptably range from 1.8 liters to 2.1 liters, but should be as close as possible to 2 liters.
*** Amber glass containers are specified in the U.S. EPA regulatory methods for organic contaminants, including PCBs.
**** Changes made to: Chain_Custody_EDD file (Formatting Issues Addressed), Location_Table_EDD file (New Jersey locations not within the Delaware River Basin were added, as well as locations in the non-tidal Schuylkill River Basin, and For Chain_Custody and Location_Table EDDs previously submitted, there is no requirement to resubmit those files. Changes will be made by the DRBC to existing files.
***** Change made to Section 1.1 F) 2.c. on page four.

Data Glossary (pdf 40 KB)

Listing of Laboratories Known to Perform Low Level PCB Congener Analyses (pdf 96 KB; updated Feb. 2015)

Workshop Presentations and Related Resolutions

PCB Point Source Discharger Sampling Workshop:  January 11 and 20, 2005

This workshop, sponsored by the Delaware Estuary TMDL Coalition, was held at the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA) Auditorium Building in Camden, N.J. Below are the powerpoint presentations given:

Related Resolutions