Perhaps the most widely known of organic contaminants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a serious environmental problem due to their wide dispersal and extreme persistence in the environment. Learn more about PCBs and their prevalence. Historically, PCB contamination was determined by methods which test for Aroclors only — however, these methods only cover a selection of congeners. Because PCBs lose chlorines over time, the congeners present can no longer be found in Aroclors. To address this issue, AXYS offers both a high-resolution (HRMS) and a low-resolution (LRMS) 209 PCB congener test in a variety of matrices including solid, aqueous and tissue.
AXYS Analytical has achieved accreditation with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) for the analysis of all 209 PCB Congeners by Methods 1668A and 1668C in non-potable water. Method 1668 offers unmatched sensitivity and specificity as compared to other PCB methodologies. AXYS worked with the US EPA Office of Water to develop and validate EPA Method 1668A and has been proficient in its use for over 20 years. This High Resolution Gas Chromatography/High Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRGC/HRMS) method uses isotope dilution internal standard quantification which gives the ultimate in analyte identification and detection limits. As specified by the method, an extensive suite of stable isotopically labeled analogs of the target PCBs are spiked into every sample prior to extraction, analytes are quantified against a suite of 29 labelled analogues and data are recovery corrected for losses in extraction and clean-up.
AXYS has consistently demonstrated the ability to generate reproducible results, and reliably achieve very low level detection limits in matrices such as POTW final effluent and in very complex matrices such as POTW biosolids. Our reporting limits for water/effluent samples range between 1 – 2 pg/L (ppq). For solid our reporting limits range between 0.1 – 0.2 pg/g (ppt).
Most importantly, AXYS stands alone in the industry with its ability to achieve and maintain low procedural blank and background levels. Through careful preparation of glassware and overall laboratory cleanliness, our procedural blank levels for total PCB concentrations are routinely < 100 pg/L.
Together, our low our procedural blank levels, extensive clean-ups, and instrument conditions mean that false-positive results are essentially non-existent.
AXYS has supported PCB TMDL studies for a number of the most developed TMDL programs in the United States over the past decade. By obtaining this accreditation with PA DEP, AXYS can now support NPDES permits in Pennsylvania that specifies monitoring of PCBs by method 1668A. AXYS continues to support projects in the Delaware River basin in southeastern PA to evaluate compliance with a TMDL for the tidal portion of the Delaware River. Learn more about our TMDL and Regional Monitoring Support.
We routinely analyze the full list of PCBs and TEQ PCBs by high resolution gas chromatography (GC-HRMS) using method 1668A, as well as by low resolution mass spectrometry (GC-MS). AXYS specializes in measurement of PCBs to picogram or lower concentrations from standard sample sizes. Our specialized sampling and analytical procedures may allow for much lower detection limits and reduced sample sizes in human and sediment matrices. Typical detection limits achieved are in the low pg/L range for water and pg/g range for soils, sediments, biosolids, tissue, and serum by HRMS. Both HRMS and LRMS methods employ serial isotope dilution and robust positive identification/quantification criteria. This, coupled with extensive chromatographic clean-up options, results in low detection limits in complicated matrices.
Method AXYS Method ID Description 209 PCB congeners by GC-HRMS MLA-010, which is the basis for EPA 1668A/C Analysis of 209 PCB congeners with the level of detection at sub-ppt. 209 PCB congeners by GC-MS (LRMS) MLA-007, which is based on EPA Methods 8270D and 625 Analysis of 209 PCB congeners with the level of detection at sub-ppb. Co-extraction method by fractionation MLA-013 Method for co-extracting PCB, DX/F, PBDE and OC Pesticides from 1 sample aliquot
Below are a few examples showing how our PCB and Aroclor testing platforms have been utilized:
Spokane River Regional Toxic Task Force
This Regional organization is focused on PCBs measurement and reduction in the Spokane River. Multiple projects, conducted by SRRTTF, State of Washington, plus a variety of municipal and industry members, have been completed or are underway. Key task include completing a hydrological modelling and PCB mass balance / assessment of the river for all environmental matrices, source investigations, and use of active and passive sampling media to meet the very low level objectives SRRTTF. AXYS provides a variety of analytical options featuring very low detection limits coupled with best in class blank level control. .
Metro Vancouver Multi-Year Project to Study POPS and CECs loading in WWTP and diffusion in the Receiving Environment
AXYS has provided Alkylphenol, Sterols and Hormones, Dioxins, PCB congeners, PAHs, Alkylated PAHs, Pyrethroids, and Organochlorine Pesticides analysis for the characterization of WWTP effluent, storm water/ CSO effluent, and its subsequent diffusion to receiving waters and receiving water sediments. Resident fish are also measured on a scheduled basis.
AXYS is “Reliable and Responsive Partner” to SFEI
Since 1998, AXYS has been providing San Francisco Estuary Institute with services to support their Regional Monitoring Progam for Water Quality in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the last 20 years, the RMP has provided exceptionally high quality scientific data in support of site-specific objectives, total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), Reasonable Potential Analyses for NPDES permit holders and other regulatory programs. AXYS has analyzed in excess of 4,000 samples to date in various matrices such as bivalves, cormorant eggs, harbor seal tissue, small fish, sport fish, sediments/soils, water and serum. As the RMP has expanded their testing to include pesticides, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, poly chlorinated biphenyls and perfluorinated compounds, AXYS has been a “stead-fast, reliable and responsive partner enabling SFEI to obtain the best possible data in the fastest manner possible”.
Stantec – Leachate study – 2009–2010
Leachate is a substance that contains potentially harmful chemicals, which can leach from landfills when not damaged or not properly protected. AXYS analyzed PCBs in water for the Stantec Leachate study.
Environment Canada – 2002–2005
AXYS analyzed 26 samples, including PCBs, as part of the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW) work on the Great Lakes.