Technology Profile

Tube samplers

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island SRP Center , led by Rainer Lohmann, Ph.D., developed a passive sampling device to monitor per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in wastewater treatment plant effluent , as well as in groundwater and rivers . The increasing presence of PFAS in the environment and their potential risks to human health have generated a need for reliable and low-cost PFAS detection methods.

Typical methods of measuring PFAS in the environment can be costly, unreliable, and only provide measurements at one specific time and location. Passive sampling - an environmental monitoring technique that allows pollutants to collect and accumulate within the sampler over time - may provide a more representative picture of average PFAS levels while also serving as a low-cost alternative to traditional approaches.

Technology The research team evaluated the ability of microporous plastic tubes containing a sorbent material to accurately measure PFAS concentrations in different aquatic environments. The team calibrated the samplers in the lab by deploying them in tanks with known PFAS concentrations to determine how well they captured PFAS. The passive sampler reports time-weighted averages of water concentrations that can give a representative depiction of surface water contamination over days, tides, and seasons. Once concentrated, the PFAS can be extracted from the samplers and measured using traditional laboratory methods, such as mass spectrometry.
Innovation Benefits of field-validated passive sampling approaches include ease of handling and analysis, as well as reduced potential for contamination of single water samples collected at one time point. This technology allows for time-weighted averages of PFAS water concentrations, providing a holistic view of contamination over time. The device demonstrates sensitivity to many compounds in the PFAS family and may act as an easy-to-use tool to detect PFAS in various water bodies such as wells or rivers.
Contaminant and Media PFAS in surface water and groundwater.
Principal Investigator Rainer Lohmann
Institution University of Rhode Island Sources, Transport, Exposure & Effects of PFAS (STEEP) SRP Center
Grant Number P42ES027706
References Gardiner C, Robuck A, Becanova J, Cantwell M, Kaserzon S, Katz D, Mueller J, Lohmann R. 2022. Field Validation of a Novel Passive Sampler for Dissolved PFAS in Surface Waters. Environ Toxicol Chem 41(10):2375-2385. doi: 10.1002/etc.5431 . PMID: PMID: 35833595 .

Dunn M, Becanova J, Snook J, Ruyle B, Lohmann R. 2023. Calibration of Perfluorinated Alkyl Acid Uptake Rates by a Tube Passive Sampler in Water. ACS ES T Water 3(2):332-341. . PMID: PMID: 37006340 .
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