New Research in Passive Sampling at Contaminated Sediment Sites

ER Blog Graphic 7-6-15

Sediment contamination remains a significant liability for the Department of Defense (DoD). Contaminants in sediments at DoD sites include a wide variety of compounds including polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, various metals and metalloids, and military-unique compounds such as munitions constituents (MCs). Most of these contaminants tend to remain in the sediment long-term, resulting in persistent exposure to ecological and human receptors. In 2012, SERDP co-hosted a workshop with ESTCP on Needs for Long-Term Management of Contaminated Sediments. This workshop identified high priority research needs, including further development of passive sampling methodologies to measure contaminant bioavailability.

Passive sampling methods provide in situ measurements to better assess bioavailability that truly reflect site conditions. Passive sampling devices recently have been developed and applied for both organics and metals. Additional tools and links to biological resources are needed for other DoD chemicals of concern including dioxins/furans, additional metals, munitions-related compounds, and other emerging compounds. SERDP selected six research projects that will focus on developing passive sampling methods to provide repeatable and biologically relevant measures of contaminant bioavailability in sediment.

Dr. Rainier Lohmann of the University of Rhode Island will lead SERDP project ER-2538, developing both in situ and in vitro passive methods to sample chlorinated dioxins/furans, as well as other hydrophobic organic contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

Dr. Penny Vlahos from the University of Connecticut will develop an in situ passive sampler for detection and remediation of explosive compounds in SERDP project ER-2539.

Under ER-2540, Dr. Upal Ghosh of the University of Maryland Baltimore County will develop an in situ, actively shaken deployment platform that can accommodate multiple types of passive samplers for organics and metals.

Dr. Paul Edmiston from ABSMaterials, Inc. will develop and test a multipurpose biomimic passive sampling system to measure the bioavailable fraction of chemicals of concern in sediments in SERDP project ER-2541.

Dr. Jason Belden of Oklahoma State University is leading SERDP project ER-2542, in which he will develop an integrative passive sampler (IPS) design and protocol that accurately integrates time-weighted concentrations of MCs within water from epibenthic environments.

Under ER-2543, Dr. Andres Martinez from The University of Iowa will investigate new and innovative materials, such as chemically tailored polymeric nanofibers. These materials can be integrated into a multi-purpose passive sampling device that overcomes traditional hurdles in existing devices, and thus improve DoD’s ability to characterize the distribution and concentrations of contaminants at sediment sites.

Summaries of these research projects are available on the SERDP and ESTCP web site and all reports originating from these efforts will be available to download from the project web pages. Please contact the Environmental Restoration Program Manager if you have additional questions about this research area.

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