Determination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in sediment and biota
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are environmental contaminants regulated by the Stockholm Convention of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), and are included on the OSPAR List of Chemicals for Priority Action due to their persistence, potential to bioaccumulate, and toxicity. Analysis of the ICES-7 PCBs (CB28, 52, 101, 118, 138, 153, and 180), in sediment and biota, is a mandatory requirement of the OSPAR Coordinated Environmental Monitoring Programme (CEMP). Three of the four non-ortho (CB77, 126 and 169) are classed as pre-CEMP determinands at the time of publication, and analysis in biota is recommended but on a voluntary basis.
This document provides advice on the analysis of PCBs in biota and sediment, including non-ortho PCBs. The determination of PCBs in sediment and biota generally involves extraction with organic solvents, clean-up, and gas chromatographic separation with electron capture detection or mass spectrometry. Due to the low concentrations of non-ortho substituted PCBs compared to those of other PCBs, their determination may require an additional separation step. All stages of the procedure are susceptible to insufficient recovery and/or contamination. Therefore, quality control procedures are important in order to check method performance. These guidelines have been prepared by members of the ICES Marine Chemistry Working Group (MCWG) and the Working Group on Marine Sediment (WGMS) and are intended to encourage and assist analytical chemists to reconsider their methods and to improve their procedures and/or the associated quality control measures where necessary.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee