Passive Samplers Tackle PCB Flux

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Project 4 researchers have developed a method to measure the movement, or flux, of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from water to air using passive sampling devices.The team, led by Andres Martinez, Ph.D., and Center Director Keri Hornbuckle, Ph.D., demonstrated that simple and cost-effective passive samplers could be used to overcome this challenge. By improving how PCB flux is measured, researchers can better understand and predict water- and airborne exposures to PCBs in communities living near contaminated waterways.

The team used a dual-sampling system of polyurethane foam passive air (PUF-PAS) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) water samplers to simultaneously measure PCBs in water and surrounding air. PUF-PAS and LDPE samplers are frequently used to capture and measure persistent organic pollutants like PCBs. Using measured water and air concentrations over time, they were able to calculate the direction and magnitude of PCB flux. According to the authors, passive sampling devices like these can reduce uncertainty and improve the sensitivity and accuracy of analytical methods.

The research was reported in the January 2019 edition of Environmental Pollution.

Above image is courtesy of Andres Martinez.