Devil?s Swamp Lake near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, constructed by dredging in 1973 in Devil?s Swamp along the Mississippi River, is contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This study investigated the possible historical contribution of PCBs from a hazardous-chemical disposal facility by way of a wastewater drainage ditch that operated from 1971 to 1993. Six sediment cores from the lake and three bottom-material samples from the drainage ditch were collected on October 5, 2004, and analyzed for PCBs using an immunoassay screening method. The results were used to evaluate qualitatively the historical input record of PCBs to the lake. Deposition dates in three of the cores were estimated by assuming that penetration of the push corer was stopped by firmer, pre-lake materials that mark the 1973 subsurface level of dredging. Sixty-one samples from five of the six cores and three bottom-material samples from the drainage ditch were analyzed. PCBs were at higher concentrations in ditch bottom material (about 1.1 to 2.2 milligrams per kilogram) than in cores from sites near where the ditch enters the lake (about 0.1 to 1.0 milligrams per kilogram). The highest concentrations of PCBs (maximum about 15 milligrams per kilogram) were detected in lake-bottom sediment about 350 meters west of where the drainage ditch enters the lake. Detection rates and median PCB concentrations were higher in all of the dated core sediments deposited before about 1990 than after 1990.
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Immunoassay screening of sediment cores for polychlorinated biphenyls, Devil's Swamp Lake near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2004