Passive samplers are monitoring tools that provide information about dissolved concentrations of hydrophobic organic compounds in the water column and sediment porewater at polluted sites.
Polymeric passive samplers are relatively simple to use and can be inserted to contaminated media in the field as well as in the laboratory. Passive samplers mimic pollutant uptake by aquatic organisms resulting in a much better representation of risks to ecological receptors and humans. Results obtained through passive sampling can inform whether benthic organisms are protected or adverse effects are likely to occur.
Types of passive samplers
Silicone and low density polyethylene are most frequently used as polymer passive samplers for hydrophobic organic compounds. The polymer materials passively equilibrate with dissolved compounds in sediments. The high partitioning of organic chemicals between the surrounding water and the polymer yields a measurable dissolved concentration without the need for bulk water or sediment sample collection.
Benefits of using passive samplers
Passive sampler data provide information about realistic exposures and risks for human and environment health by quantifying the bioavailable concentrations of contaminants. By focusing on decreasing risks and target remediation, significant cost reduction can be achieved at polluted sites. Passive samplers also offer a replacement technique for laboratory exposure testing of benthic organisms with contaminated sediments. Passive samplers can be used to assess the progress of mandate restoration projects and help in detecting rising environmental issues. It is a powerful tool that can be used to protect our sensitive environment from the growing world population and associated demands. Routine passive sampling approaches will reduce analytical bias and improve quality assurance practices.