PCB concentrations in sediments from the Gulf of Nicoya estuary, Pacific coast of Costa Rica

Alison L Spongberg
Revista de Biología Tropical 2004, 52: 11-22
Thirty-one sediment samples collected from 1996-2003 from the Gulf of Nicoya estuary on the northwestern coast of Costa Rica, have been obtained for PCB analyses. This is part of the first study to evaluate the PCB contamination in coastal Costa Rica. Overall, the concentrations are low, especially when compared to sediments from more temperate climates and/or sediments from more heavily industrialized areas. Values average less than 3 ng/g dw sediment, however, a few samples contained up to 7 ng/g dw sediment. Sediments with the highest concentrations were located in the Punta Morales area, where muds were sampled from among mangrove roots. The Puntarenas samples had surprisingly low PCB concentrations, likely due to their sandy lithology. The congener distribution within the majority of the samples showed signs of either recent sources or lack of degradation. However, a few sites, specifically some of the inter-gulf islands and more remote samples had congener distributions indicative of airborne contaminants and/or degradation. Considering the presence of airborne PCBs in the Gulf of Papagayo to the north, the lack of airborne PCBs and more varied congener distribution in the Gulf of Nicoya estuary was surprising.

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