Polychlorinated Biphenyls & Aroclors

Perhaps the most widely known of organic contaminants, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are a serious environmental issue due to their wide dispersal, persistence in the environment and multiple health effects. Historically, PCB contamination was determined by methods which test for Aroclors only — however, these methods only cover a selection of congeners. As PCBs dechlorinate over time, aroclor-based analysis becomes less accurate. To address this issue, SGS AXYS offers a variety of solutions for comprehensive 209 PCB congeners measurement.

  • Multiple instrument approaches to meet every application need: GC-HRMS, GC-MS and the new, fully validated and benchmarked APGC-MS/MS.
  • Methods leadership: We are the originator of the EPA-1668 method for ultratrace congener PCB analysis, and the GC-MS congener method to replace legacy aroclor methods for permitting which is currently in multi-lab validation.
  • SGS AXYS stands alone in the industry with its ability to achieve and maintain low procedural blank and background levels through careful preparation of glassware and overall laboratory cleanliness.
  •  We measure PCBs in all environmental, biota and human matrices for a comprehensive solution for your wastewater treatment plant studies, Total Maximum Daily Loading (TMDL) studies and more.
  •  Our experience and data quality provides data of unparalleled defensibility for high-importance litigation and remediation projects.
  •  Coextractions and sophisticated multiplexing with dioxins, pesticides and more to generate 100s of POP measurements at low detection limits from a single, limited sample.

Our Offering


MDL Ranges (pg/L aqueous)

GC-HRMS – EPA-1668


Aqueous, solid, tissue, passive, active


Aqueous, Solid, Tissue
GC-MS (Legacy)


Aqueous, solid, tissue, passive, active
GC-MS (New EPA Congener)


Aqueous, solid, tissue

Application Spotlight

PCBs in Tree Swallows for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

SGS AXYS has supported the United States Geological Survey in their Great Lakes contaminant monitoring studies. Custer et al. 2018 published results in tree swallows based on multiple years of PCB monitoring.  Tree swallows were used as they feed close to their nests, and so, their eggs and nestlings are sensitive indicators of contaminant exposure by location. Our sensitive, accurate and precise GC-HRMS method allowed for measurement by site with as low as 5 eggs/nestlings per site. Results showed that PCB levels at these locations are fairly stable year-to-year.


Custer, C.M., Custer, T.W., Dummer, P.M., Goldberg, D., and Franson, J.C. (2018). Annual variation in polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure in tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) eggs and nestlings at Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) study sites. Environ Monit Assess 190, 227.