Toxins and Emerging Pollutant Monitoring


Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 06:32:15 -0500
From: John Murphy

Dear Colleagues,
I would appreciate information about community-based stream/river monitoring groups who collect data on toxins, metals, persistent organic pollutants, and emerging pollutants — both sediment-borne and in the water column. I am just beginning to explore the feasibility of doing this with my program in central Virginia.
Thank you in advance for any info you can provide.
John Murphy
Director, StreamWatch
P.O. Box 181, Ivy, VA Â 22945


Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 06:49:47 -0500
From: Marcus Griswold

Hi John,
This can become quite expensive. Unless you are collecting storm event samples, your sediment samples will be better indicators of historic and current pollutants. Are you collecting biological samples at the same time? If you have thoughts on specific chemicals from a polluter, that might be cheaper. I would try to collaborate with a university if possible since they may have the equipment to analyze the samples. The problem with sediment sampling is that it can be highly variable over a short distance and you may need many samples. I would also look into any samples USGS may have collected in your area.
Good Luck


Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 06:56:23 -0500
From: John Murphy
Subject: Re: [volmonitor] Toxins, Emerging Pollutants

Hi Marcus,
Thank you for this advice. I am fairly familiar with the challenges of this kind of sampling–though I have lot to learn about some technical details. Your suggestions are well noted.
But do you know of some community-based groups, including groups w/ significant volunteer participation, who perform this kind of monitoring?


Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 08:21:32 -0500
Subject: Re: [volmonitor] Toxins, Emerging Pollutants

To add to what Marcus said, you could also check with your state agency and EPA Region 3 to see if there are any data available for the area.
Paula Zevin
Division of Environmental Science and Assessment
Monitoring and Assessment Branch/MOS
U.S.E.P.A. – Region 2
2890 Woodbridge Avenue, MS-220
Edison, NJ 08837
Tel.: (732) 321-4456
Fax: (732) 321-6616


I concur with Paula and Marcus, and would like to add a couple of suggestions:
1. If you decide to sample sediments (because the water comes and goes, but the sediment remembers), you will have a better chance of detecting anything (particularly DDTs and PCBs) if you (a) focus on fine sediments; (b) create a composite sample from several areas of fine sediment deposition.
2. As for water samples, here in California we find very little of anything in dry weather base flow, but when we analyze water samples collected during the first storm of the rainy season we find too much. Stormwater runoff collection is logistically complex, but working with a large group of dedicated volunteers allows you to sample at multiple places at the same time. Our experience and findings have been summarized in the Russian River First Flush 2002 Summary Report, which you can find at the bottom of the page at:
There are several follow-up studies reported recently by the Russian Riverkeeper group at
and many other studies, including the First Flush 2000, reported by the Monterey Bay Volunteer Monitoring Network at
Good luck,
Revital Katznelson, Ph.D.
Environmental Scientist
Berkeley, California
510 406 8514