January 19, 2021

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Jason Conder, Steven Sande, and Michael Healey Coauthored “Evaluation of a rapid biosensor tool for measuring PAH availability in petroleum-impacted sediment” Published in Environmental Advances

Jason Conder, Ph.D. (California), Steven Sande, and Michael Healey, (Ontario) coauthored an article entitled “Evaluation of a rapid biosensor tool for measuring PAH availability in petroleum-impacted sediment” for publication in Environmental Advances on January 6, 2021.

Jason, Steven, and Michael’s coauthors were Mehregan Jalilizadeh, Exponent; Hong Luo, Amanda Bess, Chevron Energy Technology Company; and Michael Unger, Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Jason Conder is a Principal Scientist based in California with more than 15 years of experience focused on risk assessment and contaminated sediments in contaminated site assessment and management, environmental toxicology, and ecological and human health risk assessment.

Steven Sande is an Environmental Scientist based in Ontario with experience focused on conducting treatability studies and providing air, surface water, and sediment passive sampling services to aid in risk assessment of contaminated sites.

Michael Healey is a Senior Laboratory Technician based in Ontario with experience focused on bench-scale studies to evaluate remediation technologies for chlorinated solvents and other recalcitrant compounds and the development of SiREM’s SP3™ passive sampler.

Environmental Advances is an international and fully Open Access journal supporting the rapid publication of peer-reviewed original research articles, short communications and review papers dealing with all aspects of the environmental sciences. Its vision is to ensure maximum accessibility and appeal to a diverse readership in the environmental sciences and beyond.


Decades of research have shown that the concentration of freely dissolved PAH (Cfree) in sediment correlates with PAH bioavailability and toxicity to aquatic organisms. Passive sampling techniques and models have been used for measuring and predicting Cfree, respectively, but these techniques require weeks for analytical chemical measurements and data evaluation. This study evaluated the performance of a portable, field-deployable antibody-based PAH biosensor method that can provide measurements of PAH Cfree within a matter of minutes using a small volume of mechanically-extracted sediment porewater. Four sediments with a wide range of PAHs (ΣPAH 2.4 to 307 mg/kg) derived from petroleum, creosote, and mixed urban sources, were analyzed via three methods: 1) bulk chemistry analysis; 2) ex situ sediment passive sampling; and 3) biosensor analysis of mechanically-extracted sediment porewater. Mean ΣPAH Cfree determined by the biosensor for the four sediments (3.1 to 55 µg/L) were within a factor of 1.1 (on average) compared to values determined by the passive samplers (2.0 to 52 µg/L). All mean values differed by a factor of 3 or less. The biosensor was also useful in identifying sediments that are likely to be non-toxic to benthic invertebrates. In two of the four sediments, biosensor results of 20 and 55 µg/L exceeded a potential risk-based screening level of 10 µg/L, indicating toxicity could not be ruled out. PAH Toxic Units (ΣTU) measured in these two sediments using the passive sampler Cfree results were also greater than the ΣTU threshold of 1 (6.7 and 5.8, respectively), confirming the conclusions reached with the biosensor. In contrast, the other two sediments were identified as non-toxic by both the biosensor (3.1 and 4.3 µg/L) and the passive sampler (ΣTUs of 0.34 and 0.039). These results indicate that the biosensor is a promising tool for rapid screening of sediments potentially-impacted with PAHs.

More Information

About the article: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envadv.2021.100032
About Environmental Advances: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/environmental-advances
To Learn more about rapid biosensor tools contact Jason Conder at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Learn more about Jason: https://www.geosyntec.com/people/jason-conder
Learn more about Steven: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steven-sande-a4264752/?originalSubdomain=ca
Learn more about Michael: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-healey-596b53160/