The association of PCBs and live algal cells in rivers was studied at four locations during four seasons in two Wisconsin rivers. Positive relations between particle-associated PCBs and both chlorophyll-a and algal carbon concentrations indicated that live algal cells were a significant sorption phase for dissolved PCBs. Large Pennate diatoms (Navicula, Synedra, Pinnularia, Diatoma, and Cocconeis), or more rarely, Euglenoids (Trachelomonas sp.), dominated most sample assemblages on an algal carbon basis. These assemblages made up the highest percentage of total SOC during spring (average=50%) and lowest during summer (average=15%). At the three impounded sites, most individual PCB congeners were relatively enriched in samples characterized by: (1) high concentrations of algal carbon (as a percent of SOC), (2) algal assemblages dominated (or co-dominated) by Euglenoids, and (3) high concentrations of total lipids. Despite relatively higher masses of sorbed PCBs in the most lipid-rich samples, there was no robust correlation between total lipid content and particle-associated PCBs when aggregating all samples from the study. A possible explanation is that PCBs are associated with other structural components in live algae and (or) departure from chemical equilibrium in the river due to algal growth kinetics. A kinetic uptake model was used to calculate the mass of PCBs associated with the total organic carbon content of live algae. Based on this model, PCBs were enriched in algal cells during bloom seasons (spring and fall) compared to non-bloom seasons (summer and winter). Further, although individual PCB congener partition coefficients (log) to live algal cells (range=5.3-6.4) overlapped to those for detritus (range=3.6-7.4), PCBs tended to be enriched in detrital carbon pools during non-bloom conditions. The larger range of estimated PCB partition coefficients for detritus likely reflects the more heterogeneous nature of this material compared to live algal cells.
Additional Publication Details
Association of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) with live algae and total lipids in rivers - A field-based approach