Clean Ocean Action

To investigate the extent of sediment contamination in New Jersey coastal areas, Clean Ocean Action assessed sediment quality using available databases.  These databases were results from federal agency monitoring programs such as NOAA's National Status and Trends and EPA's EMAP/REMAP.


Clean Ocean Action found that indeed there are sites of concern for sediment contamination in New Jersey's coastal waters.    For example, significant toxicity is found at sites along the coastline and is not just limited to urban, northern areas.

Map of Sediment Toxicity. Red points are those sites from USEPA’s coastal sediment monitoring program, EMAP, which showed significant toxicity (more than 20% mortality) to shrimp-like amphipods. Figure modified from National Coastal Condition Report (USEPA, 2001, EPA 620/R-01/005).

Also, there are elevated levels of PCBs along the entire New Jersey coastline (see map below).

Map of PCBs in Sediments. The red marks are all the sites sampled in the NJ region in federal monitoring programs that showed elevated levels of PCBs. Elevated levels of PCBs are those that equal or exceed the Effects Range-Low (ER-L) sediment quality guideline (Long et al. 1995) used by NOAA and NJDEP Site Remediation Program. ER-L is 23 ppb total PCB.

The most alarming result, however, is that the coastline of New Jersey is severely under-represented in monitoring programs.  There is no state monitoring program, and federal programs do not extensively survey the NJ coastline.  This is especially concerning for the contamination in New Jersey's numerous estuaries and bays that will go undetected and likely cause harmful effects to wildlife and the food chain. 

Map of Sediment Sampling Sites. The points are sites sampled in the NJ region in federal monitoring programs. Note the scarcity of sampling sites on New Jersey's outer coast and in inland bays in Atlantic, Ocean, and Cape May counties.

For more information about COA's review of sediment monitoring programs and recommendations for monitoring in New Jersey, contact COA's scientist at 732-872-0111 or science@(Spam protected email address)

18 Hartshorne Drive, Suite 2
Highlands, NJ 07732
Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041

Charity Navigator, "Your Guide to Intelligent Giving"

A member of Earth Share of New Jersey