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Further studies on the uptake of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) by polyurethane foam disc passive air samplers

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Chakra Chaemfa
  • Jonathan L. Barber
  • Kyoung-Sim Kim
  • Tom Harner
  • Kevin C. Jones
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2009
<mark>Journal</mark>Atmospheric Environment
Issue number25
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)3843-3849
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Passive air samplers (PAS) can be used to monitor semi-volatile organic compounds in the atmosphere. Polyurethane foam (PUF) disks are a popular sampling medium because they have a high retention capacity for such compounds. This paper reports a highly time-resolved uptake study, to derive uptake rate data under field conditions, and investigate the effects of using different foam densities on the uptake rate. PUF disks were deployed alongside an active sampler, for periods of up to 12 weeks. The uptake rates were measured for a range of gas- and particle-bound persistent organic pollutants (polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)), of different properties, to explore whether gas–particle partitioning affected uptake rate. Uptake rates for two different densities of foam (0.021 and 0.035 g cm−3) were not statistically significantly different from each other. Uptake rates of light PCBs averaged 6.5 m3 day−1, somewhat higher than in previous studies; higher wind speeds and lower temperatures in this study are the likely reason for this difference. The study showed: i) the uptake rate of the compound with lowest KOA considered in this study (PCB-28/31) declined in the later weeks, indicating an approach to equilibrium; ii) uptake rates of lighter BDEs and heavier PCBs (compounds of intermediate KOA in this study) remain similar throughout the study period, indicating that they are not approaching equilibrium during the 12-week-study; iii) uptake rates were typically: 8 m3 day−1 for PCB-52; 9.5 m3 day−1 for PCB-95; 11 m3 day−1 for BDE-28 and 2 m3 day−1 BDE-99. The latter compound has an important particle-bound component and this lowers the sampling rate compared to predicted uptake rates for compounds which are in the gas phase only. It is shown that knowledge of gas–particle partitioning is needed to correct for this effect, and to improve predicted uptake rates.