Statewide Strategy on PCB Contamination

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued a statewide strategy to address PCB contamination in the waters of the Commonwealth.

DEQ monitors concentrations of chemical contaminants, including pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, in the tissue of fish and shellfish and in sediment. In 2004 the Virginia Department of Health changed the trigger level at which it issues fish consumption advisories for PCBs from 600 parts per billion to 50 parts per billion. DEQ used a 54 parts per billion screening value in 2002 and 2004 to assess PCB impairments in fish, so the Virginia Department of Health expansion of fish consumption advisories included those waters currently assessed by DEQ for PCB impairment.

During the past several years, DEQ has initiated a number of studies to determine the sources of PCBs found in fish tissue. These studies were approved for funding through the Virginia Environmental Emergency Response Fund. DEQ has found local citizen involvement in watershed source identification to be a critical element in its PCB source assessment strategy. 

Since 1999 DEQ has been using the Total Maximum Daily Load program to address water quality impairments in state waters. A TMDL study identifies the sources of pollution and the reductions of the identified pollutants needed to attain water quality standards. 

DEQ has completed one TMDL study for PCBs and is in the process of developing several others. Limitations in funding and the significant number of waters requiring source assessment may at times necessitate prioritization of the work. The statewide strategy will help DEQ prioritize and manage the source assessment and investigation of the large number of PCB fish advisory sites.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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