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Environ Sci Technol. 2002 Oct 1;36(19):4142-51.

Characterization and comparison of three passive air samplers for persistent organic pollutants.

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Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment Canada, 4905 Dufferin Street, Toronto, Ontario M3H 5T4, Canada.


The accumulation of persistent organic pollutants by three passive sampling media--semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs), polyurethane foam (PUF) disks, and an organic-rich soil--was investigated. The media were exposed to contaminated indoor air over a period of 450 days, and concentrations in the air and in the media were monitored for individual polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners and polychlorinated naphthalene homologue groups. Uptake was initially linear and governed by the surface area of the sampler and the boundary layer airside mass transfer coefficient (MTC). Mean values of the MTC were 0.13, 0.11, and 0.26 cm s-1 for SPMD, PUF, and soil, respectively. As the study progressed, equilibrium was established between ambient air and the passive sampling media for the lower molecular weight PCB congeners. This information was used to calculate passive sampler-air partition coefficients, KPSM-A. These were correlated to the octanol-air partition coefficient, and the resulting regressions were used to predict KPSM-A for the full suite of PCBs. Information on MTC, KPSM-A, surface area, and effective thickness of each sampler was used to estimate times to equilibrium for each medium. These ranged from tens of days for the lower molecular weight congeners to tens of years for the higher molecular weight PCBs. Expressions were also developed to relate the amount of chemical accumulated by the passive sampling media to average ambient air concentrations over the integration period of the sample.

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