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Development of a novel DGT passive sampler for measuring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in aquatic systems

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number134199
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/05/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Hazardous Materials
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date8/04/24
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are priority pollutants and need to be measured reliably in waters and other media, to understand their sources, fate, behaviour and to meet regulatory monitoring requirements. Conventional water sampling requires large water volumes, time-consuming pre-concentration and clean-up and is prone to analyte loss or contamination. Here, for the first time, we developed and validated a novel diffusive gradients in thin-films (DGT) passive sampler for PAHs. Based on the well-known DGT principles, the sampler pre-concentrates PAHs with typical deployment times of days/weeks, with minimal sample handling. For the first time, DGT holding devices made of metal and suitable for sampling hydrophobic organic compounds were designed and tested. They minimize sorption and sampling lag times. Following tests on different binding layer resins, a MIP-DGT was preferred – the first time applying MIP for PAHs. It samples PAHs independent of pH (3.9 −8.1), ionic strength (0.01 −0.5 M) and dissolved organic matter < 20 mg L −1, making it suitable for applications across a wide range of environments. Field trials in river water and wastewater demonstrated that DGT is a convenient and reliable tool for monitoring labile PAHs, readily achieving quantitative detection of environmental levels (sub-ng and ng/L range) when coupled with conventional GC-MS or HPLC. Environmental implications: PAHs are carcinogenic and genotoxic compounds. They are environmentally ubiquitous and must be monitored in waters and other media. This study successfully developed a new DGT passive sampler for reliable in situ time-integrated measurements of PAHs in waters at the ng/L level. This is the first time to use passive samplers for accurate measurements of hydrophobic organic contaminants in aquatic systems without calibration, a big step forward in monitoring PAHs. The application of this new sampler will enhance our understanding of the sources, fate, behavior and ecotoxicology of PAHs, enabling improved environmental risk assessment and management of these compounds.