Superfund Research Program
Developing Passive Samplers for the Detection and Bioaccumulation of PFASs in Water and Porewater
Project Leader: Rainer Lohmann
Grant Number: P42ES027706
Funding Period: 2017-2022
The Developing Passive Samplers for the Detection and Bioaccumulation of PFASs in Water and Porewater Project further assessed different sampling approaches and materials for the accumulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). With initial experiments, Rainer Lohmann, Ph.D., and her team demonstrated that thin fibers can be used for the detection of dissolved PFASs. This is the first time that thin fibers had been used for PFASs and represented a major advance for characterizing highly contaminated sites because passive samplers typically must be deployed for weeks. Lohmann and her team also conducted field validation experiments of a passive sampling tube for the time-integration of dissolved PFASs, with deployments in wastewater treatment effluents and in the Narragansett Bay. The sampling tubes accumulated sufficient PFASs for their regular detection, confirming their utility. The research team’s results show that these tube-samplers can be used to derive average PFAS concentrations over weeks to months but will need to be calibrated as part of field sampling program. Lastly, Lohmann and her researchers published findings from their field study that inexpensive polymer sheets can be used to accumulate and quantify volatile and neutral PFASs, some of which can break down into more toxic and persistent PFASs (Dixon-Anderson and Lohmann 2018). A major advantage of these passive samplers, in addition to their ability to provide a time-integrated average concentration, is the ease of extraction compared to grab samplers. Other benefits of these low-cost sampling tools include their versatility and ease-of-use, enabling users to share them with communities of interest to assess the presence of and exposure to PFASs, and to ultimately reduce exposure and advance public health.