Other Monitoring Programs & Studies
DRBC staff collect a water sample from the Delaware Estuary to monitor for toxic pollutants. Photo by DRBC. 
DRBC staff collect a water sample from the Delaware
Estuary to monitor for toxic pollutants. Photo by DRBC. 

Toxic chemical compounds can have adverse effects on aquatic life and human health as a result of both short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) exposure. 

These pollutants include metals such as copper, lead and mercury, as well as a number of chlorinated organic compounds. 

♦ DRBC Water Quality Regulations (pdf)

♦  DRBC Toxics Advisory Committee

The DRBC conducts periodic monitoring of ambient water toxicity as part of its program to control toxic substances in the Delaware Estuary.


In fact, its ambient toxicity monitoring program is the only on-going program that tests for water column toxicity in the Delaware Estuary.

Monitoring toxicity helps assess compliance with regulatory standards, which state that no adverse effects should be observed in toxicity tests with undiluted ambient water. 

DRBC also has requested monitoring of Whole Effluent Toxicity by dischargers.

Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET)

Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) is the total effect of wastewater, ambient water and/or stormwater on aquatic organisms (e.g., fish and macroinvertebrates). It allows for the assessment of toxicity as a whole, rather than from a single chemical or constituent.

Typically performed in a laboratory, WET can be acute (short-term effects) or chronic (long-term effects).

WET tests are extensively used to measure the combined effects of wastewaters from industrial and municipal facilities on organisms' ability to survive, grow and reproduce.

WET testing implements national, basin states and DRBC narrative water quality policies of no toxics in toxic amounts. 

The DRBC and Pennsylvania have adopted numeric water quality criteria to protect against acute effects on aquatic life (0.3 Toxic Units acute) and chronic effects (1.0 Toxic Units chronic) from toxic pollutants such as pesticides, dioxins/furans and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Reports and Informational Links

DRBC Monitoring Reports

DRBC Presentations

Informational Links/Papers

DRBC Resolutions related to Toxic Pollutants