Trichloroethylene Uptake into Fruits and Vegetables: Three-Year Field Monitoring Study

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Environmental Science and Technology





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Trichloroethylene (TCE) contaminated groundwater migrating into communities surrounding Hill Air Force Base (HAFB) in northern Utah prompted a multiyear monitoring program (2001-2003) to examine the extent of TCE uptake and transfer into edible fruits. During the initial sampling in fall 2001, TCE was detected in a small fraction of the 167 fruit and tree core samples collected from 17 private residences. Samples were analyzed using headspace gas chromatography (GC) with electron capture detection (ECD) with limited confirmation by mass spectrometry (MS) in selected ion monitoring mode. In fall 2002, over 300 samples were collected from the same general locations sampled in 2001. No TCE was found in any of the fruit or vegetable samples above the method detection limit (MDL) for the headspace GC/MS method (approximately 0.1 microg/ kg fresh weight, depending on sample size), but TCE was again detected in several fruit tree trunk core samples. The detection of TCE in fruit in 2001, but not in 2002, may have been due to improvements in the analytical procedure or changes in the environmental conditions impacting transfer to fruit. The 2003 monitoring focused on repeated sampling over several months at five locations that were selected to represent the range of exposure scenarios evaluated during the previous years. No TCE was identified in any of the fruit above the MDL during 2003, however TCE was again found in tree core samples as observed in 2001 and 2002.

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