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A Model Using Local Weather Data to Determine the Effective Sampling Volume for PCB Congeners Collected on Passive Air Samplers

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posted on 10.03.2016, 00:00 by Nicholas J. Herkert, Andres Martinez, Keri C. Hornbuckle
We have developed and evaluated a mathematical model to determine the effective sampling volumes (Veff) of PCBs and similar compounds captured using polyurethane foam passive air samplers (PUF–PAS). We account for the variability in wind speed, air temperature, and equilibrium partitioning over the course of the deployment of the samplers. The model, provided as an annotated Matlab script, predicts the Veff as a function of physical-chemical properties of each compound and meteorology from the closest Integrated Surface Database (ISD) data set obtained through NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). The model was developed to be user-friendly, only requiring basic Matlab knowledge. To illustrate the effectiveness of the model, we evaluated three independent data sets of airborne PCBs simultaneously collected using passive and active samplers: at sites in Chicago, Lancaster, UK, and Toronto, Canada. The model provides Veff values comparable to those using depuration compounds and calibration against active samplers, yielding an average congener specific concentration method ratio (active/passive) of 1.1 ± 1.2. We applied the model to PUF–PAS samples collected in Chicago and show that previous methods can underestimate concentrations of PCBs by up to 40%, especially for long deployments, deployments conducted under warming conditions, and compounds with log Koa values less than 8.