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Environ Sci Technol. 2002 Mar 1;36(5):1061-8.

Comparison of copper speciation in coastal marine waters measured using analytical voltammetry and diffusion gradient in thin-film techniques.

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Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts 02543, USA.


The diffusion gradient in thin-film hydrogel (DGT) probe is a promising tool for metal speciation work. Based on a passive sampling principle, it provides the potential for large data sets in complex regimes. DGT probes were deployed in waters characterized independently using competitive ligand exchange-adsorptive cathodic stripping voltammetry (CLE-ACSV). The CLE-ACSV used benzoyl acetone as the competitive ligand in discrete water samples collected during the deployment of the DGT probes. The DGT probes used a 15% polyacrylamide/0.4% bis-acrylamide cross-linker hydrogel and a Na-form of Chelex-100 to complex metal that fluxed into the probe through the hydrogel. Probes were deployed in locations characterized by the degree of pollution impact: the relatively pristine Vineyard Sound, MA, [Cu]total approximately 6 nM, small seasonally active harbors on Cape Cod, MA, [Cu]total = 12-64 nM, as well as a large polluted estuary, the Elizabeth River, VA, [Cu]total = 44-58 nM, and a large polluted port, San Diego Harbor, CA, [Cu]total = 23-103 nM. This is the first study where DGT probes have been compared with an independent speciation technique in marine systems and used to establish the diffusion coefficient of Cu-complexing ligands in situ. Results showed that the probes produced highly precise data sets, with substantial differences in copper accumulation between contaminated and pristine waters. Comparison of DGT results with CLE-CSV indicate that at least 10-35% of the organically complexed copper derived by CLE-ACSV measurements was DGT-labile. Diffusion coefficients (corrected to 25 degrees C) of organically complexed DGT-labile Cu through the hydrogel ranged from 0.77 x 10(-6) cm2 s(-1) in Vineyard Sound to 2.16 x 10(-6) cm2 s(-1) in the Elizabeth River estuary. Accumulation rates of copper were substantially higher in contaminated waters than in pristine waters, suggesting that the probes in their current form may be useful as tracking tools to detect episodic sources of contamination.

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