Novel integrative methods for sampling environmental contaminants

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Description

Up to 25 percent of the operating budget for contaminated site restoration projects is spent on site characterization, including long-term monitoring of contaminant concentrations. The sensitivity, selectivity, and reproducibility of

Up to 25 percent of the operating budget for contaminated site restoration projects is spent on site characterization, including long-term monitoring of contaminant concentrations. The sensitivity, selectivity, and reproducibility of analytical methods have improved to the point where sampling techniques bear the primary responsibility for the accuracy and precision of the data. Most samples represent discrete concentrations in time and space; with sampling points frequently limited in both dimensions, sparse data sets are heavily extrapolated and the quality of data further limited.

Methods are presented for characterizing contaminants in water (groundwater and surface waters) and indoor air. These techniques are integrative, providing information averaged over time and/or space, as opposed to instantaneous point measurements. Contaminants are concentrated from the environment, making these methods applicable to trace contaminants. These methods have the potential to complement existing techniques, providing the practitioner with opportunities to reduce costs and improve the quality of the data used in decision making.

A conceptual model for integrative sampling of environmental waters is developed and a literature review establishes an advantage in precision for active samplers. A programmable sampler was employed to measure the concentration of chromate in a shallow aquifer exhibiting time-dependent contaminant concentrations, providing a unique data set and sustainability benefits. The analysis of heat exchanger condensate, a waste stream generated by air conditioning, is demonstrated in a non-intrusive method for indoor air quality assessment. In sum, these studies present new opportunities for effective, sustainable environmental characterization.