STAMPS

Project description

Aims
Abstract
Summary
Links to Sites of Interest

Aims

The aim of this proposal is to produce formal standards for the use of passive sampling methodology in water monitoring in order to support EU directives, water policy and legislation. The passive sampling technology offers the promise of more representative monitoring of water quality than is possible with spot sampling, which currently underpins all water legislation across Europe.

Passive sampling technology provides a more accurate representation of water quality than is possible with spot sampling, and at a lower cost. This technology will facilitate harmonisation of water monitoring for legislative and management purposes.

Passive sampling involves the deployment of a calibrated device which uses a diffusion gradient to collect pollutants over a period of days to weeks, followed by extraction and analysis of pollutants in a laboratory to provide a measure of time-averaged concentrations of pollutants to which the sampler was exposed. These systems measure the free fraction of pollutants in the bulk water phase.

Spot sampling comprises the collection of a water sample at a fixed point in time, followed by transport to a laboratory for extraction and analysis, and gives only an instantaneous estimate of pollutant concentration at the time of sampling.

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Abstract

Currently legislation and EU directives and policies governing water quality depend on spot sampling techniques which are unreliable where levels of pollutants fluctuate. Passive sampling methodology which can provide low-cost, time-averaged measurements of concentrations of pollutants, and hence overcome the problems associated with spot sampling, is not recognised by legislators because of a lack of a standardised approach for the application of this technology.

Currently available designs of passive sampling devices cannot effectively monitor all of the priority substances of concern in the field of water policy. A low-cost passive sampling device has been developed under the 4th Framework (Standards, Measurement and Testing Programme), and has been shown in field trials to provide time-averaged concentrations of the three major classes (polar and non-polar organics and metals) of priority pollutants.

This device can be deployed in the field for periods of days to weeks. The sampler provides the basis of a solution for the problems highlighted above.

The overall objectives of the STAMPS project are:

  • To develop a recognised National Publicly Available Specification for the use of passive sampling methodology in the monitoring of organic and inorganic priority pollutants and endocrine disrupting compounds in aquatic environments. This standard will be in a form that facilitates its normation at a European level.
  • To develop commercially useful passive sampling devices which provide low-cost, time-averaged measurements of the wide range of pollutants in the EU priority list in order to facilitate the development of standards for the general methodology, and which can be used to support water policy directives (e.g. the Dangerous Substances Directive 76/464/EEC and subsequent daughter directives; Methods of Measurement, Sampling and Analysis of Surface Waters Directive 79/869/EEC).
  • To test the field performance of the samplers alongside spot sampling in a range of representative freshwater sites from Northern, Central, and Southern Europe.
  • To test the robustness of the technology through inter-laboratory trials.
  • To disseminate the technology and expertise through a workshop to raise awareness of legislators, regulators, industrial managers, and other end users.

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Summary

Problem to be Solved

There is an increasing requirement for the monitoring of water quality across Europe, with particular emphasis on the contaminants in the list of Priority Pollutants. However, the only methodology that is currently accepted is that of spot sampling. This gives only a snapshot of water quality at the moment of sampling, and can be misleading where levels of pollutants fluctuate.

The frequency of sampling required by the various water quality directives (e.g. Dangerous Substances Directive 76/464/EEC and daughter directives; Methods of Measurement, Sampling and Analysis of Surface Waters Directive 79/869/EEC) and other international agreements varies enormously, with little harmonisation between them.

Passive sampling can provide low-cost, time-averaged measurements of concentrations of pollutants, and hence overcome these problems associated with spot sampling, but is not recognised by legislators because of a lack of a standardised approach for the application of this technology. There are no formal standards defining this methodology, and this precludes acceptance for legislative purposes.

Currently available passive samplers cannot effectively monitor all of the priority pollutants of concern in the field of water policy. If this problem is not resolved, the extra sampling required by developing legislation will place a large financial burden on those responsible for enforcing the policies. Further, important decisions on the setting and monitoring of discharge consents will be based on unreliable and patchy information.

Scientific Objectives and Approach

The main objective is to develop a recognised National Publicly Available Specification for the use of passive sampling methodology in the monitoring of organic and inorganic priority pollutants and endocrine disrupting compounds in aquatic environments.

This standard will facilitate normation at European level. This will be supported by the development of commercially useful samplers that provide low-cost, time-averaged measurements of the wide range of pollutants in the EU priority list. In order to establish the robustness and reliability of the methodology, the field performance will be tested alongside existing spot sampling technology in a range of representative freshwater sites across Europe, and through inter-laboratory trials.

In order to make end users, including legislators, regulators, and industrial managers familiar with the developments achieved in this project the outcomes will be disseminated through a workshop, and through the establishment of WWW-based site at the University of Portsmouth.

A British Standards Institute Publicly Available Specification will be published, and will provide the documentation necessary for the establishment of a European standard that will be acceptable across the EU.

Expected Impacts

The improved sampling methodology will yield more reliable measurements of pollutant levels under a wide range of environmental conditions, facilitating the implementation of European policies aimed at reducing long-term exposure of European citizens to hazardous substances in the aquatic environment.

It will reduce the cost of monitoring to enable increased surveillance and policing of existing legislation by bodies such as the European Environmental Agency, and will provide a means of detecting point and diffuse sources of pollution.

It will provide data to underpin legislation and aid in the development of new EU policies and Directives. The flexibility of the technology will enable its extension to novel anthropogenic compounds such as new biocides, surfactants, and fragrances as they become of concern, and to monitoring coastal and marine environments.

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Links to Sites of Interest

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