Chicago’s Sanitary and Ship Canal sediment: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, brominated flame retardants, and organophosphate esters

The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) links the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River starting in downtown Chicago. In addition to storm water, the CSSC receives water from Chicago’s wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). Such effluents are known to be sources of organic pollutants to water and sediment. Therefore in 2013, we collected 10 sediment samples from the CSSC and measured the concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated flame retardants, and organophosphate esters (OPEs). Geometric mean concentrations of the summed concentrations of 16 PAHs ranged from 11,000 to 420,000 ng/g dw, with the highest concentrations located at each end of the canal. Total PCB concentrations had a geometric mean of 1400 ± 500 ng/g dw. Brominated flame retardants were separated into two groups: polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and non-PBDEs. Concentrations of PBDEs and those of the non-PBDE flame retardants had a geometric average of 83 ± 19 and 7.0 ± 5.8 ng/g dw, respectively. The summed concentrations of 8 OPEs ranged from 470 to 2800 ng/g dw, with the highest concentration detected at a site located downstream of the Stickney water reclamation plant. Using ANOVA results, some hypotheses on sources to the CSSC could be formulated: downtown Chicago is probably a source of PAHs, the Cal-Sag Channel may be a source of PCBs, and neither the WWTP nor the Cal-Sag Channel seem to be significant sources of brominated flame retardants or OPEs.

Angela A. Peverly, Colin O’Sullivan, Liang-Ying Liu, Marta Venier, Andres Martinez, Keri C. Hornbuckle, Ronald A. Hites, Chemosphere, Volume 134, Pages 380–386, September 2015

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