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Strengthening passive sampling of nonpolar chemicals

Guidelines for the determination of partition coefficients between passive samplers and water available in new ICES Techniques in Marine Environmental Sciences (TIMES) report.
Published: 17 October 2017

​Passive sampling is a valuable technique for monitoring concentration levels of hydrophobic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the marine environment. Simple polymers like silicones or low-density polyethylene are often used for this purpose. These polymers accumulate POPs when exposed to water, and the accumulated amounts are used to measure freely dissolved POP concentrations.

Passive sampling is an alternative to biota-based water quality monitoring (e.g. using mussels or fish), which often suffers from confounding factors (e.g. trophic level, lipid content, season, age, gender, and food availability). These factors play no role in passive sampling. A successful application of passive sampling requires accurate knowledge of the polymer-water partition coefficients of the monitored POPs.

The present TIMES​ issue, no. 61,​ provides guidance for the measurement of polymer-water partition coefficients. Considerations for quality assurance and quality control measures are outlined. Guidance is also given for the determination of polymer-polymer partition coefficients, which can be used to harmonize monitoring data that are obtained with different sampler materials.

The guidelines will be useful for determining polymer-water and polymer-polymer partition coefficients in the best possible way. They can also be used to evaluate the quality of literature values of these partition coefficients. This will further strengthen the scientific basis of passive sampling-based monitoring of POPs in water.

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Strengthening passive sampling of nonpolar chemicals

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