New study shows New Bedford Harbor is major source of airborne PCBs

DSC_0080-editFull paper | Press release

BUSRP and the University of Iowa Superfund Research Program (ISRP) published a study showing that the New Bedford Harbor Superfund site is the largest reported continuous source of airborne PCBs from natural waters in North America. This paper is the first from our collaborative research study, bringing together local residents, community organizers and researchers from both SRPs to monitor the PCB concentrations in air. The paper shows that the harbor is a significant source of airborne PCBs for adjacent neighborhoods.

The study began in response to community concerns about airborne exposure from the Superfund site. With support from NIEHS supplemental funding, BUSRP and ISRP worked with residents to identify sites for air quality monitors and collected four rounds of data at each location. Researchers also met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and used data collected by the EPA on PCBs in water and air. Now, results show that residents living closest to the harbor are exposed to elevated concentrations of airborne PCBs.

On March 9, resident leaders held a press conference in New Bedford to raise awareness locally of PCB exposures and the importance of harbor clean-up. The research has been continuously translated and all residents who hosted an air quality monitor have received personalized information with data and explanations. In turn, residents are working with community organizers to share the data with the larger community.

The study will continue with a human health risk assessment.

In the news:

New Bedford Harbor Identified as Major Source of Airborne PCBs
BU Research | April 20, 2017

Study: New Bedford Harbor is Source of Toxic Airborne PCBs
By Taylor Cormier, WBSM | March 9, 2017

New Bedford Harbor Identified as Major Source of Airborne PCBs
By Boston University School of Public Health | March 9, 2017

Airborne PCBs come from harbor, study says
By Jennette Barnes, South Coast Today | March 9, 2017

New Bedford Harbor identified as major source of airborne PCBs
By Science Daily | March 10, 2017

New research identifies New Bedford Harbor as major source of airborne PCBs
By Phys.org | March 10, 2017

Study shows New Bedford Harbor as continuous source of airborne PCB emissions
By News Medical Life Sciences | March 10, 2017

Citation:
Martinez, A., Hadnott, B. N., Awad, A. M., Herkert, N. J., Tomsho, K., Basra, K., Scammell, M. K., Heiger-Bernays, W., Hornbuckle, K. C. (2017). Release of Airborne Polychlorinated Biphenyls from New Bedford Harbor Results in Elevated Concentrations in the Surrounding Air. Environmental Science & Technology Letters. doi:10.1021/acs.estlett.7b00047

March 9, 2017