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Characterization and Application of Passive Samplers for Monitoring of Pesticides in Water

Published: August 3rd, 2016



1Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 2Center for Chemical Pesticides, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

A protocol about the characterization and application of five different passive sampling devices is presented.

Five different water passive samplers were calibrated under laboratory conditions for measurement of 124 legacy and current used pesticides. This study provides a protocol for the passive sampler preparation, calibration, extraction method and instrumental analysis. Sampling rates (RS) and passive sampler-water partition coefficients (KPW) were calculated for silicone rubber, polar organic chemical integrative sampler POCIS-A, POCIS-B, SDB-RPS and C18 disk. The uptake of the selected compounds depended on their physicochemical properties, i.e., silicone rubber showed a better uptake for more hydrophobic compounds (log octanol-water partition coefficient (KOW) > 5.3), whereas POCIS-A, POCIS-B and SDB-RPS disk were more suitable for hydrophilic compounds (log KOW < 0.70).

Pesticides are continuously introduced to the aquatic environment and may pose a risk to aquatic organisms1. Monitoring of pesticides in the aqueous environment is typically performed using grab sampling, however, this sampling technique does not fully account for temporal variations in concentrations due to fluctuations in flow or episodic inputs (e.g., precipitation, combined sewer overflows, sewage lagoon release)2,3. Thus, monitoring methods need to be improved for a better estimation of environmental risks associated with pesticides. Passive sampling allows continuous monitoring over an extended period of time with minimal infrastru....

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1. Passive Sampler Design and Preparation

  1. Silicone rubber sheets
    1. Cut the silicone rubber sheets (600 mm x 600 mm, 0.5 mm thick) into stripes of 2.5 mm x 600 mm and 2.5 mm x 314 mm using a stainless steel cutter and connect them using a stainless steel blind rivet (3.2 mm x 10 mm) with a rivet gun to obtain a total sampler stripe size of 2.5 mm x 914 mm (surface area = 457 cm2, sorbent mass = 15.6 g, volume = 22.9 cm3).
  2. Place the silico.......

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Five different passive sampler techniques were compared for the uptake of 124 legacy and current used pesticides including silicone rubber (Figure 1), and POCIS A, POCIS B, SDB-RPS and C18 disk (Figure 2). The performance of the extraction method and instrumental analysis was optimized. The outcome of the laboratory uptake experiments can be used to calculate the R'S and log K'PW values (T.......

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For quality control, as standard procedure, laboratory blanks, limits of detection (LOD), recoveries, and repeatability were examined23. A few pesticides were detected in the blank samples at low concentration levels. LODs were set as the value of the lowest point on the calibration curve which meets the criteria of a signal to noise ratio of 3. The average LODs were 8.0 pg absolute injected on column for silicone rubber, 1.7 pg absolute for POCIS-A, 1.6 pg absolute for POCIS-B, 3.0 pg absolute for SDB-RPS dis.......

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The Swedish EPA (Naturvårdsverket) (agreement 2208-13-001) and Centre for Chemical Pesticides (CKB) are gratefully acknowledged for funding this project. We thank Märit Peterson, Henrik Jernstedt, Emma Gurnell and Elin Paulsson at the OMK-lab, SLU, for skillful assistance with analytical support and supply of pesticide standards.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Methanol Merck Millipore 1.06035.2500
Acetonitrile Merck Millipore 1.00029.2500 
Acetone Merck Millipore 1.00012.2500
2-propanol Merck Millipore 1.00272.2500
Dichloromethane Merck Millipore 1.06054.2500
Ammoniak Merck Millipore 1.05428.1000 Purity 25%
Formic acid Sigma-Aldrich 94318-50ML-F Purity ~98%
Ethyl acetate  Sigma-Aldrich 31063-2.5L for pesticide residue analysis
Petroleum ether  Sigma-Aldrich 34491-4X2.5L for pesticide residue analysis
Acetic acid  Sigma-Aldrich 320099-500ML Purity ≥99.7%
Cyclohexane  Fisher Chemicals C/8933/17 for residue analysis
Empty polypropylene SPE Tube with PE frits, 20 μm porosity, volume 6 mL Supelco 57026
Empore SPE Disks, C18, diam. 47 mm Supelco 66883-U Passive sampler
Empore SPE Disks, SDB-RPS (Reversed-Phase Sulfonate), diam. 47 mm Supelco 66886-U  Passive sampler
POCIS-A  EST POCIS-HLB Passive sampler
POCIS-B EST POCIS-Pesticide  Passive sampler
Polyethersulfone (PES) membranes EST PES
Silicone rubber sheet Altec 03-65-4516 Passive sampler
Agilent 5975C Agilent Technologies 5975C GC-MS
HP-5MS UI J&W Scientific HP-5MS Analytical column for GC-MS
Agilent 6460 Agilent Technologies 6460 HPLC-MS/MS
Strata C18–E, 20 x 2 mm id and 20–25 μm particle size Phenomenex Strata C18–E Online SPE column for LC-MS/MS
Strata X, 20 x 2 mm id and 20–25 μm particle size Phenomenex Strata X Online SPE column for LC-MS/MS
Zorbax Eclipse Plus C18 Agilent Technologies Zorbax Eclipse Plus C18 Analytical column for LC-MS/MS
Isolute phase separator, 25 mL Biotage 120-1907-E
Stainless steel blind rivet, 3.2x10 mm Ejot & Avdel 951222

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