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Evaluation of passive samplers for the monitoring of contaminants in sediment and water

Monitoring of POPs and PCBs in international monitoring programmes

image of Evaluation of passive samplers for the monitoring of contaminants in sediment and water

Passive samplers spiked with performance reference compounds (PRC) were prepared in Holland, and deployed at 9 sites in the Nordic countries and Greenland. Mussels were collected at the same sites to compare passive sampler results with the mussel-watch approach usually applied in national monitoring. Sediments were sampled from 6 sites, and analysed both by total methods and passive samplers for pore water concentration. From the spiked PRCs, sampling rates was calculated, and used to determine water phase concentration of PAHs and other organic compounds with a high octanol-water partitioning coefficient. The project has shown that silicone passive samplers can be used for monitoring programmes, and development of guidelines and quality assurance of analysis are underway. Within the next 2-3 years it could become part of the monitoring strategy of OSPAR, EU and the Nordic Countries.

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Conclusions

The passive sampler trial survey, using silicone sheet passive samplers, demonstrated the usefulness of passive samplers in a North Sea wide context. The passive samplers were shown to be applicable in the whole of the OSPAR convention area, and for a wide range of persistent organic contaminants in the WFD and OSPAR lists of compounds for priority action. The comparability of calculated free water concentrations between laboratories in the participating countries and the reference laboratory leaves room for improvements; some of the discrepancies were most likely due to different calculation methods for Rs, but the comparability is more or less on the same level as mussel and sediment surveys already, and far better than what could be expected for measuring directly in the water phase. A currently ongoing QUASIMEME intercalibration exercise on the passive sampler materials will hopefully improve this situation. More experience and guidelines could make passive samplers a more homogeneous tool for EU-wide investigations. For the OSPAR system, intercalibration, guidelines and assessment criteria are the driving force for methods to become mandatory, and the former two are probably ready by 2010 or 2011, so when assessment criteria are established, the passive samplers could become a mandatory part of OSPAR's Coordinated Environmental Monitoring Programme (CEMP).

English

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