PFAS in surface water, sediment and fish from the Delaware River
A. Ronald MacGillivray, Ph.D.
Senior Environmental Toxicologist,
Delaware River Basin Commission
The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has monitored emerging contaminants including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Delaware River for spatial and temporal trends. PFAS are found in a variety of industrial and household products such as stain repellant textiles, aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) and paper coatings. PFAS have varying degrees of persistence, toxicity and bioaccumulation in the environment. Wildlife and human exposure to several PFAS is widespread. Discharges to the environment include industrial outfalls, municipal treatment plants, usage of AFFF, stormwater runoff and landfill leachate. There is increasing information available on adverse effects of some PFAS to human health and the environment. Exposure through drinking water and fish consumption are areas of concern. PFAS were measured non-concurrently in fish fillet, surface water and sediment over a fifteen-year period. Concentrations of PFAS in resident fish varied by species, sample location and sample year. Fish tissue concentrations appear to be substantially decreasing for some long chain PFAS although PFOS concentrations continue to be of concern in both tidal and non-tidal segments of the river. Concentrations of PFAS decreased in varying amounts in tidal water during the sampling period with notable decreases in some longer chain PFAS and limited decreases in PFOS and shorter chain PFAS. In non-tidal surface water grab samples, three of the four sites had non-detects for all thirteen analytes, while one site had results just above the detection limits for two compounds. Sediment samples collected in the tidal Delaware River in 2016 detected low concentrations of long chain PFAS. The results from these surveys can inform management actions such as adoption of fish consumption advisories or development of stream quality objectives to minimize impacts to human health and aquatic life.
Ron MacGillivray is a Senior Environmental Toxicologist at the Delaware River Basin Commission (http://www.state.nj.us/drbc/). His work includes characterizing contaminants of emerging concern, monitoring ambient toxicity, establishing water quality criteria, designing field and laboratory studies for environmental assessment and developing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) / Pollution Minimization Plans (PMPs) in the Delaware River and Bay. Dr. MacGillivray is an Adjunct Faculty at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Prior to working at the DRBC, he was a Project Scientist in the Fate and Effects Laboratory of Roy F. Weston, Inc. (Weston Solutions, Inc.).
Dr. MacGillivray earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, a M.S. in Microbiology from Rutgers University and a B.S. in Biology from Northeastern University. He is past-president of the Hudson Delaware Chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (http://www.hdcsetac.org/).
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