M.S. Thesis: Estimation of the Total PCB Mass in the Hudson River System

By M. Sasha Mackler

Advisor: Prof. Roelof Versteeg

Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering
Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science
Columbia University

April 2000

Estimates of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) load to the Hudson river, PCB transport and fate and the total mass and spatial distribution of sediment-bound PCBs in the Hudson River Estuary vary significantly. A computation of total sediment-bound PCB mass using a comprehensive compilation and analysis of all published Hudson PCB data, sedimentation rates as a function of mile point and river surface yields a range of estimates of total amounts of PCBs in the river from 20 and 440 tons. These ranges result from different (plausible) choices of PCB concentrations and sedimentation rate as a function of milepoint. While the data needed to narrow down this range definitively is currently not available, a narrower range of 150-250 tons seems reasonable based on the available data and a qualitative analyses of the factors contributing to the calculation. The error bars on this computational result are appreciable but it is believed that the method developed in this study can provide a more accurate result as new data become available.”

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