Date of Award


Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Howard Patterson

Second Committee Member

Jeffrey S. Kahl

Third Committee Member

David Courtemanch


Maine's Department of Environmental Protection has been monitoring dioxidfuran levels in Maine rivers using fish tissue analysis since the 1980's. Effective December 3 1,2002, pulp and paper mills in Maine must not discharge any toxic congeners of dioxindfurans into local surface water. The test prescribed in the law (38 M.R.S.A. § 5420) requires the concentration of dioxins or furans in fish (or surrogate) collected downstream of a mill cannot exceed fish monitored upstream from a mill. The purpose of this project is to determine if SPMDs are a better procedure for monitoring dioxin levels in accordance with the upstrearddownstream test. Effective analytical and field methods were developed at the Environmental Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Maine to determine dissolved dioxidfuran concentrations in SPMD sampling matrix. Water temperature, biofouling, and flow velocity are environmental conditions that can affect the uptake kinetics of SPMDs. Assuming isotropic exchange kinetics, a permeability reference compound (PRC) can be spiked into the SPMD prior to deployment to calibrate the rate change of dioxidfuran uptake caused by environmental conditions (Huckins et al., 2002a). Thus, more accurate concentrations can be determined utilizing these passive samplers instead of using destructive fish tissue analysis. The results of this thesis conclude the levels of most dioxidfuran congeners are consistently at or below the detection limit and PRCs are effective at correcting for the environmental conditions. 2,3,7,8-TCDF has been quantified in each of the three deployments on the Androscoggin River at both the upstream and downstream locations. In 2002, both toxic PeCDFs were quantified along with TCDF allowing a comparison of the upstream and downstream sites for those three congeners. The rest of the seventeen toxic dioxidfuran congeners were not consistently detected. Using the Mann-Whitney U test, a significant difference in concentration (p=0.05) was determined between the two sites with the upstream site greater than the downstream site. There are three possible explanations for the lower trend in furan concentrations downstream. 1. The downstream location is too far from the point of discharge leading to dilution of the furans. 2. The discharged dioxidfurans are not in dissolved form upon release from the mill. 3. The pulp and paper mill assessed is in compliance with the upstream/downstrearn law and is not releasing dioxidfurans in excess of the background concentrations in the Androscoggin river based on the SPMD protocol established in this thesis.