Sediments in the Hudson are repositories for a vast array of toxic substances, which have been discharged from industrial pipes, sewage treatment plants, and general runoff over many decades. Persistent contaminants include PCBs, dioxins, chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides, and trace metals such as copper, lead, zinc, cadmium, chromium, and mercury (Chapters 7, 24, 25, 26). In recent years alkylphenol ethoxylate (APEO) metabolites have been found and are believed to act as endocrine disruptors. Most famous are the high concentrations of dioxins and other substances in sites such as the Raritan River and high concentrations of PCBs in sediments above and below the Federal Dam in Troy. A 2001 EPA decision will result in the eventual dredging and disposal of PCB-laden materials. The Hudson River is the second most contaminated large estuary in the United States with metals, including mercury and copper.
In 1995, a Superfund cleanup removed cadmium-laden sediments in Foundry Cove near Cold Spring (Chapter 30). Many areas, however, still have high concentrations of toxics and proposed NewYork Harbor dredging therefore raises the important question of disposal. Extensive studies of dated sediment cores provide important evidence of contaminant deposition histories and insights into degradation processes (Chapters 25, 26).
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