CERC Branch: Passive Sampling

deploying passive sampler

The primary focus of Passive Sampling is on the development of innovative methodologies for passive sampler design and complex mixture analysis of various environmental matrices. Research is conducted on emerging and historic contaminants; assessment of the exposure of aquatic and terrestrial organisms and humans to anthropogenic chemicals; and identification of chemicals and their potential sources.

The link between chemical occurrence and biological effects are investigated using passive samplers as surrogate biological organisms and screening sampler extracts with in vitroand in vivo tests for estrogenicity, acute toxicity, reproductive and developmental abnormalities. The research is designed to expand the understanding of the roles of physicochemical parameters and environmental factors on the uptake mechanisms of passive samplers.

The CERC Passive Sampling section is an international leader in the field of passive sampling technologies. 

Lake Mead – Clear and Vital” is a thirteen minute documentary relating the crucial role of science in maintaining high water quality in Lake Mead. The program was produced coincident with release of the Lakes Mead and Mohave Circular a USGS publication covering past and on-going research in the lakes and tributaries of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. (Rosen, M.R., Turner, K., Goodbred, S.L., and Miller, J.M., eds., 2012, A synthesis of aquatic science for management of Lakes Mead and Mohave: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1381, 162 p.)

International Passive Sampling Workshop

 Passive Sampling Bibliography (select the POCIS or SPMD Bibliography from the drop down list on the search page, place an * in the search field to see the entire bibliography)

SPMD Water Concentration Estimators  (These are Microsoft Excel spreadsheet files.)  
NOTE: Use version 5.1 of the SPMD Water Concentration Estimator if performance reference compounds (PRCs) were used in your study. If PRCs were not used, you must use version 4.1. 
    Please contact David Alvarez (dalvarez@usgs.gov") or 573-441-2970, if you need assistance with these estimators.

    version 5.1    version 4.1

The application of passive sampling technologies for the monitoring of legacy and emerging organic chemicals in the environment is becoming widely accepted worldwide. The primary use of passive sampling methods for environmental studies is in the area of surface-water monitoring; however, these techniques have been applied to air and groundwater monitoring studies. Although these samplers have no mechanical or moving parts, electrical or fuel needs which require regular monitoring, there are still considerations that need to be understood in order to have a successful study. 

Two of the most commonly used passive samplers for organic contaminants are the semipermeable membrane device (SPMD) and the polar organic chemical integrative sampler (POCIS). The following guideline focuses on these two samplers but are applicable to most types of passive sampling devices. The information in this guide is heavily weighted towards the sampling of water; however, information specific to the use of SPMDs for air sampling will also be covered.

Guidelines for the Use of the Semipermeable Membrane Device (SPMD) and the Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Sampler (POCIS) in Environmental Monitoring Studies (Chapter 4 of Section D, Water Quality Book 1, Collection of Water Data by Direct Measurement)  citation: Alvarez, D.A., 2010, Guidelines for the use of the semipermeable membrane device (SPMD) and the polar organic chemical integrative sampler (POCIS) in environmental monitoring studies: U.S. Geological Survey, Techniques and Methods 1–D4, 28 p.

Emerging Contaminants (Columbia River Contaminants and Habitat Characterization
http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/427 (USGS Multimedia Gallery)

2011 Water Quality Concepts, Sampling and Analysis Course
Sampling and Analysis of Emerging Contaminants (41 minutes)
David Alvarez for University of Florida IFAS

Passive samplers developed at CERC for metals include the Passive Integrative Mercury Sampler (PIMS) and the Stabilized Liquid Membrane Device (SLMD). The PIMS is used to sample gaseous elemental mercury from air or water, whereas the SLMD is used for sampling several toxicologically important metal ions from water.

The Virtual Fish: SPMD Basics (former SPMD website)

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