Modified Polytopic Vector Analysis To Identify and Quantify a Dioxin Dechlorination Signature in Sediments. 2. Application to the Passaic River

Persistent contaminants such as dioxins have been documented to undergo dechlorination reactions in the laboratory; however, little is known about the importance of these reactions in the field. Polytopic vector analysis (PVA) is a statistical pattern recognition technique for multivariate data traditionally used to identify fingerprints of contaminant sources. A modified PVA algorithm with uncertainty analysis was used to model dechlorination fingerprints and sources. The technique was applied to 351 sediment core-derived dioxin samples from the lower reach of the Passaic River, New Jersey. A dechlorination fingerprint was identified with a highly positive 2,3,7,8-tetraCDD component and a highly negative heptaCDD component. The most important industrial source of 2,3,7,8-tetraCDD is a fingerprint related to 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid production. The dechlorination contribution to the data variance is 3.00 ± 1.00%, corresponding to an average of 1.2 μg/kg of 2,3,7,8-tetraCDD per sample at the expense of heptaCDD. The possible occurrence of dechlorination was validated by comparing the local dechlorination contribution in the results to the value of the ratio 2,3,7,8-tetraCDD/total 2,3,7,8-PCDD, which indicates dechlorination in the laboratory. Bootstrap uncertainty analysis yielded the same dechlorination EM in 40% of the realizations. The results indicated that bootstrapping is an important statistical tool to quantify uncertainties with respect to the dechlorination EM and some of the source EMs.