Spatial Distibution, Air-Water Exchange, and Toxicity of Organic Pollutants Using Passive Samplers

Carrie A Mcdonough, University of Rhode Island


Thousands of manmade chemicals are present in air and water worldwide, yet we know little about how these chemicals' concentrations vary spatially and temporally or what biological effects they have in concert. The first four studies described in this dissertation use data from passive polyethylene samplers (PEs) deployed throughout the lower Great Lakes region from 2011 to 2014 to deduce air-water fluxes and analyze spatial trends of the truly gaseous and dissolved fraction of three distinct groups of hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs): polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polycyclic musks (PCMs), and organic flame retardants (OFRs), with the aim of better understanding how sources and physico-chemical properties determine the fate of these HOCs. The objectives of these studies were to determine whether gaseous and dissolved HOCs exhibited positive correlation with regional population density within 25 km of each site in the lower Great Lakes region, investigate whether diffusive air-water exchange of HOCs was primarily leading to volatilization from or absorption into the lakes' surface waters, and investigate health risks of ambient urban air by measuring aromatic hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-mediated potency of the truly gaseous mixture of HOCs accumulated in PEs deployed in air from the greater Cleveland area. Results showed that the radius at which strongest correlation between gaseous HOC concentration and human population was observed depended on vapor pressure, and a relationship between the maximum distance where significant correlation occurred, and compound vapor pressure, is presented for amassed PAH, PBDE, and PCM data. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.) ^

Subject Area

Chemical oceanography|Environmental engineering

Recommended Citation

Carrie A Mcdonough, "Spatial Distibution, Air-Water Exchange, and Toxicity of Organic Pollutants Using Passive Samplers" (2017). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI10259346.