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Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Jun 15;40(12):3893-900.

Environmental monitoring of hydrophobic organic contaminants: the case of mussels versus semipermeable membrane devices.

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  • 1Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, P.O. Box 59, 1790 AB Texel, The Netherlands.


Concentrations of hydrophobic chemicals in mussels and semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs) from nine studies published over the past decade, amended with new data obtained in the Scheldt-North Sea area, were assessed to understand the similarities and differences between these sampling matrixes. A model was developed to describe the concentration ratios, using literature values of elimination rate constants and steady-state accumulation factors of both samplers as key parameters. The model could successfully describe the results of seven studies. Differences in concentration ratios among these studies were related to the variability of mussel bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) and water sampling rates of SPMDs. For two studies, the model could only describe the data by adopting unrealistically high water sampling rates, and for one study there were not enough data to test the model. We argue that SPMDs will generally yield more reliable estimates of exposure concentrations than mussels, because in situ BAF values are difficult to estimate, whereas the in situ exchange kinetics of SPMDs can be quantified by measuring the dissipation rates of performance reference compounds. The implications of the results for future and existing monitoring programs are discussed.

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