Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were monitored in surface water collected in the Selangor River basin, Malaysia, to identify the occurrence, distribution, and dechlorination process as well as to assess the potential adverse effects to the Malaysian population. Ten PCB homologs (i.e., mono-CBs to deca-CBs) were quantitated by using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The total concentration of PCBs in the 10 sampling sites ranged from limit of detection to 7.67 ng L(-1). The higher chlorinated biphenyls (tetra-CBs to deca-CBs) were almost not detected in most of the sampling sites, whereas lower chlorinated biphenyls (mono-CBs, di-CBs, and tri-CBs) dominated more than 90 % of the 10 homologs in all the sampling sites. Therefore, the PCB load was estimated to be negligible during the sampling period because PCBs have an extremely long half-life. The PCBs, particularly higher chlorinated biphenyls, could be thoroughly dechlorinated to mono-CBs to tri-CBs by microbial decomposition in sediment or could still be accumulated in the sediment. The lower chlorinated biphenyls, however, could be resuspended or desorbed from the sediment because they have faster desorption rates and higher solubility, compared to the higher chlorinated biphenyls. The health risk for the Malaysia population by PCB intake that was estimated from the local fish consumption (7.2 ng kg(-1) bw day(-1)) and tap water consumption (1.5 × 10(-3)-3.1 × 10(-3) ng kg(-1) bw day(-1)) based on the detected PCB levels in the surface water was considered to be minimal. The hazard quotient based on the tolerable daily intake (20 ng kg(-1) bw day(-1)) was estimated at 0.36.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.