Technical Integrity / Collaboration / Exceptional Results

Five Advantages Passive Sampling Has Over Your Current Field Sampling Methods

Do you need cost-effective, long-term measurements of site contamination?
Passive sampling can help.
Collecting grab samples of bulk sediment, surface water, and groundwater to characterize and monitor contaminated site conditions often involves costly, labor-intensive field sampling events. The sampling campaigns may require repetitive efforts over the course of months or years to characterize a contaminated area. Moreover, the methods traditionally used provide only a snapshot of contaminant levels, do not always give an accurate measure of exposure, and have difficulty detecting low concentrations of chemicals.
Passive sampling overcomes many of these challenges and limitations, yielding accurate measurements of freely dissolved contaminant concentrations in groundwater, surface water, and sediment porewater. The technology can be used to characterize and/or monitor a cleanup site before, during, or after remediation.
Passive sampling technology offers the following advantages over traditional methods.

  1. A cost-effective tool for site specialists who need to characterize contamination, conduct water quality evaluations, or monitor the effectiveness of an engineered remedy.
  2. Time-integrated measurements of dissolved contaminants.
  3. Detection of low concentrations of freely dissolved organic contaminants such as PCBs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, and dioxins/furans, through the use of hydrophobic phases like polymer-coated fibers or thin plastic films.
  4. An understanding of freely dissolved contaminant concentrations that may drive risk at contaminated sites.
  5. Ability to demonstrate compliance to regulators.

Integral scientists routinely assist clients with strategic planning to determine whether passive sampling is the appropriate tool to address project needs.
“There is no better method to measure dissolved hydrophobic organic contaminant concentrations in situ at the sub-picogram per liter level,” explains Integral scientist Jose Gomez-Eyles, Ph.D. “For some projects, this is the only sampling method that can detect contaminants at the low concentrations needed to demonstrate remedy effectiveness.”
For example, Integral scientists used passive samplers to evaluate the effectiveness of an armored cap in containing dioxin/furan contamination and to monitor for possible releases of dioxin to groundwater. Passive samplers were selected for their ability to detect these contaminants at the extremely low concentrations necessary to demonstrate compliance, while providing a minimally invasive technique to effectively sample and monitor the armored cap.
For more information on passive sampling, contact Dr. Gomez-Eyles at
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