Distribution of heavy metal and PCB contaminants in the sediments of an urban estuary: The Hudson River

Huan Feng, J. Kirk Cochran, Honoratha Lwiza, Bruce J. Brownawell, David J. Hirschberg

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152 Scopus citations


Surficial sediments obtained from sediment cores were collected over 100 km along the axis of the lower Hudson River in June 1994, November 1994, May 1995 and April 1996 and showed the presence of anthropogenic Ag, Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn, PCBs in all samples. Contaminant distributions in the Hudson River estuary show two types of trends: Ag, Cu and Pb show an increasing trend down-estuary with maximum values in New York Harbor sediments; in contrast, Cd, Zn and total PCBs display a decreasing trend toward New York Harbor where urban sources are also apparent. Silver is a useful tracer of urban sources of contaminants in the Hudson River estuary and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are useful source indicators of upriver sources. Correlations of Cu and Pb with Ag suggest that Ag, Cu and Pb are dominated by down-estuary sources such as wastewater effluent. The history of their inputs suggests that they have been progressively transported downstream. Correlations of Cd and Zn with total PCBs indicate that these contaminants are dominated by upriver sources, where they are removed and diluted downstream along with the sediment transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-88
Number of pages20
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1998


  • Contamination
  • Heavy metals
  • Hudson River estuary
  • New York City metropolitan area
  • Polychlorinated biphenyl
  • Sediments


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