In-situ and ex-situ measurement of hydrophobic organic contaminants in soil air based on passive sampling: PAH exchange kinetics, non-equilibrium correction and comparison with traditional estimations

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It is a great challenge to accurately estimate chemical activity of hydrophobic organic contaminants in field soils. Ex-situ and in-situ determinations were developed for this purpose based on low-density polyethylene (LDPE) passive sampling and non-equilibrium correction by release of performance reference compounds (PRCs) previously spiked to the samplers. This work investigated kinetic processes of target contaminants’ uptake into and PRCs’ release from the sampler in an ex-situ soil suspension incubated for 100 days. A close agreement of kinetic parameters for pyrene's (target) uptake into and deuterated pyrene's (PRC) release from LDPE indicated their similar exchange kinetics. Three kinetic models were developed to correct uptake of target compounds in non-equilibrium conditions via release processes of PRCs. The second-order kinetic model was recommended for ex-situ measurements. The PRC-based non-equilibrium corrections were further applied to in-situ static passive sampling from several weeks to months in a PAH-contaminated field site. Two-weeks’ deployments were sufficient for quantifying lighter PAHs (logKOA < 8.0), but not recommended to accurately estimate heavier PAHs (logKOA > 9.0), even if over four months. Concentration estimates from the in-situ and ex-situ passive samplings were comparable in order of magnitude with traditional estimation from equilibrium partitioning models considering both organic and black carbon fractions.

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Journal of Hazardous Materials