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Passive Samplers for Monitoring VOCs in Groundwater and the Prospects Related to Mass Flux Measurements

Verreydt, Goedele, Bronders, Jan, Van Keer, Ilse, Diels, Ludo, Vanderauwera, Paul
Ground water monitoring & remediation 2010 v.30 no.2 pp. 114-126
volatile organic compounds, groundwater, samplers, groundwater contamination, pollutants, equipment design
Measurement and interpretation of mass fluxes in favor of concentrations is gaining more and more interest, especially within the framework of the characterization and management of large-scale volatile organic carbon (VOC) groundwater contamination (source zones and plumes). Traditional methods of estimating contaminant fluxes and discharges involve individual measurements/calculations of the Darcy water flux and the contaminant concentrations. However, taken into account the spatially and temporally varying hydrologic conditions in complex, heterogeneous aquifers, higher uncertainty arises from such indirect estimation of contaminant fluxes. Therefore, the potential use of passive sampling devices for the direct measurement of groundwater-related VOC mass fluxes is examined. A review of current passive samplers for the measurement of organic contaminants in water yielded the selection of 18 samplers that were screened for a number of criteria. These criteria are related to the possible application of the sampler for the measurement of VOC mass fluxes in groundwater. This screening study indicates that direct measurement of VOC mass fluxes in groundwater is possible with very few passive samplers. Currently, the passive flux meter (PFM) is the only passive sampler which has proven to effectively measure mass fluxes in near source groundwater. A passive sampler for mass flux measurement in plume zones with regard to long-term monitoring (several months to a year) still needs to be developed or optimized. A passive sampler for long-term monitoring of contaminant mass fluxes in groundwater would be of considerable value in the development of risk-based assessment and management of soil and groundwater pollutions.