Scouting Out Sampling Locations Near Olin Chemical Superfund Site

By Bevin P. Engelward

MIT Superfund Program Director

The Olin Chemical Superfund site in Wilmington, MA is heavily contaminated with N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), an emerging contaminant that is carcinogenic in animal models. As a first step, Program Director Prof. Bevin Engelward, Co-Director Prof. John Essigmann, RTC director Dr. Jenny Kay, and NDMA expert Prof. John Durant of Tufts University joined MIT Masters students Abby Harvey and Tchelet Segev to visit the Olin site in Wilmington and collect initial samples in the area.

While NDMA is known to contaminate the Olin site itself, less is understood about nitrosamine contamination in the surrounding environment. NDMA is miscible in water, creating high potential for transport to drinking water supplies. The chemical is sensitive to light, so potential sampling locations and conditions must be carefully researched and optimized. The team identified three locations within a mile of the Olin site and collected initial water samples from each. In the future, researchers will return to these sites in the dark hours of the early morning to collect light-protected water samples for measuring NDMA content.