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Impact of the 1993 flood on the distribution of organic contaminants in bed sediments of the Upper Mississippi River

Environmental Science and Technology

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DOI: 10.1021/es970795i

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Abstract

The 1500 km Upper Mississippi River (UMR) consists of 29 navigation pools and can be divided into the upper reach (pools 1-4), the middle reach (pools 5-13), and the lower reach (pools 14-26). Comparison of composite bed sediment samples collected from the downstream third of 24 pools before and after the 1993 UMR flood provides fieldscale data on the effect of the flood on sediment organic compound distributions. The sediments were analyzed for organic carbon, coprostanol, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons including pyrene, linear alkylbenzene-sulfonates, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and organochlorine pesticides. Most of the target compounds were detected in all of the sediment samples, although concentrations were generally <1 mg/kg. The highest concentrations typically occurred in the upper reach, an urbanized area on a relatively small river. Pool 4 (Lake Pepin) is an efficient sediment trap, and concentrations of the compounds below pool 4 were substantially lower than those in pools 2-4. Differences in concentrations before and after the 1993 flood also were greatest in the upper reach. In pools 1-4, concentrations of pyrene and PCBs decreased after the flood whereas coprostanol increased. These results suggest that bed sediments stored in the pools were diluted or buried by sediments with different organic compound compositions washed in from urban and agricultural portions of the watershed.The 1500 km Upper Mississippi River (UMR) consists of 29 navigation pools and can be divided into the upper reach (pools 1-4), the middle reach (pools 5-13), and the lower reach (pools 14-26). Comparison of composite bed sediment samples collected from the downstream third of 24 pools before and after the 1993 UMR flood provides field-scale data on the effect of the flood on sediment organic compound distributions. The sediments were analyzed for organic carbon, coprostanol, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons including pyrene, linear alkylbenzene-sulfonates, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and organochlorine pesticides. Most of the target compounds were detected in all of the sediment samples, although concentrations were generally <1 mg/kg. The highest concentrations typically occurred in the upper reach, an urbanized area on a relatively small river. Pool 4 (Lake Pepin) is an efficient sediment trap, and concentrations of the compounds below pool 4 were substantially lower than those in pools 2-4. Differences in concentrations before and after the 1993 flood also were greatest in the upper reach. In pools 1-4, concentrations of pyrene and PCBs decreased after the flood whereas coprostanol increased. These results suggest that bed sediments stored in the pools were diluted or buried by sediments with different organic compound compositions washed in from urban and agricultural portions of the watershed.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Impact of the 1993 flood on the distribution of organic contaminants in bed sediments of the Upper Mississippi River
Series title:
Environmental Science and Technology
DOI:
10.1021/es970795i
Volume
32
Issue:
14
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Publisher:
ACS
Publisher location:
Washington, DC, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
2077
Last page:
2083
Number of Pages:
7