Application of passive sampling techniques for monitoring pollutants in the aquatic environment

Application of passive sampling techniques for monitoring pollutants in the aquatic environment Passive samplers represent an innovative monitoring tool for the time-integrated measurement of contaminants in water. Passive sampling technology is proving to be a reliable, robust and cost-effective tool that could be used in monitoring programmes across Europe ( Passive samplers enable monitoring of a wide range of environmental pollutants including industrial contaminants, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and their metabolites or chemicals contained in personal care products.

Passive sampling is based on the field deployment of non-mechanical devices with a simple construction capable of accumulating contaminants dissolved in water. Such accumulation occurs via diffusion into a layer of sorbent, typically over periods of days to weeks. Environmental pollutants accumulated in exposed samplers are subsequently analysed in the laboratory. Calibrated samplers allow the quantification of pollutants in water. These devices can be deployed in surface water, groundwater, wastewater and associated water treatment facilities, thus making them ideal for monitoring across the entire water cycle and even in remote areas with minimal infrastructure.

In 2011 the association of reference laboratories, research centres and related organisations for the monitoring of emerging environmental substances NORMAN ( ) in collaboration with the European Commission organised an interlaboratory study focused on a practical evaluation of the passive sampling method. The study deals with monitoring of several groups of pollutants including pharmaceuticals, polar pesticides, steroid hormones, fluorinated surfactants and brominated flame retardants in treated wastewater. The performed study should demonstrate the reliability of passive sampling method in a comparison with the traditional water sampling approach. The objective is to facilitate the future acceptance of this method for a routine monitoring of environmental quality. 29 laboratories from Europe, North America and Australia participated in the exercise. Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment (RECETOX) of the Masaryk University in Brno significantly contributed to the study implementation ( ).

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