Passive sampling approaches are now recognized as one of the best tools to quantify the availability of organic compounds in sediment, surface water and soil.
They provide data to estimate contaminant bioavailability and toxicity to environmental receptors that is more representative than conventional grab samples, as it quantifies contaminants only in the dissolved form. Despite dozens of publications detailing the development and application of passive sampling approaches over the last 15 years, recent enthusiastic regulatory support (e.g., USEPA’s 2012 passive sampling guidance), and a 6-paper series detailing a successful 2012 SETAC Pellston workshop on passive sampling, the majority of the end-user community (i.e., industrial and government organizations with environmental responsibilities and consultants) continues to move slowly in applying this powerful technology.
This presentation will highlight the current real and perceived barriers to widespread application of passive sampling from an end-user’s point of view, as well as practical lessons learned from applying passive sampling techniques in the field. The use of passive samplers in laboratory treatability studies will be discussed and a case study presented where passive samplers were used to characterize PCB concentrations in sediment pore water amended with different amounts of activated carbon to determine the optimal dose of carbon for field application. We will discuss where the field of passive sampling needs to head in the next few years to maximize the adoption of passive sampling approaches. Despite the current challenges and research action items, it is clear that currently-available passive sampling approaches are ready for widespread application and can provide high-quality data to aid environmental decision makers.