Date of Award

Summer 8-25-2020

Semester of Degree


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Chemistry



Major Professor

John Hassett

Steering Committee Member

David Kieber

Steering Committee Member

Mark Driscoll


Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, New York was once considered to be the most polluted lake in North America. Since the lake’s placement on the EPA’s superfund site list in 1994. The purpose of this study was to determine historical and surficial sediment concentrations of organic pollutants within Onondaga Lake by analyzing core sediment samples from 1920 to 2011 and surficial sediment samples from nine locations taken in 2016. The sediment core revealed three distinctive periods of high organic compound pollution in the lake: late 1920s to early 1940s, late 1950s to late 1970s, and the 1990s to early 2000s. These peaks, in PAHs, PCBs, and chlorobenzenes corresponded to industrial activities surrounding the lake, mainly by Allied Chemical and General Motors. Analysis of the surficial sediments indicated that there are no major active sources of the organic compounds investigated in this study to Onondaga Lake.