Chemcatcher river


A passive sampling device for monitoring pollutants in the aquatic environment

Most environmental monitoring programmes involve the periodic collection of low-volume spot (bottle or grab) samples of water. This is challenging, particularly where concentrations fluctuate over time and where chemicals are only present at trace levels.

Chemcatcher close-up

Chemcatcher® is a low-cost, passive sampling device, that can be used to solve this problem.

It has been used by academic scientists, governmental and environmental agencies and the water industry throughout the world. It has been used alongside – and to replace – established water monitoring approaches that rely on infrequent spot or bottle sampling. 

Chemcatcher® was originally developed using European Union funding by researchers at the University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK and Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden.

Since 2012 It has been further developed by Professor Graham Mills and Professor Gary Fones at the University of Portsmouth to make it suitable for measuring a wider range of pollutants.

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What is Chemcatcher®?

Chemcatcher® comprises a robust, reusable, water-tight PTFE body, designed to accommodate different types of receiving-phase disks. The use of a bound receiving phase ensures that the active sampling area of the device remains constant during laboratory calibration uptake experiments and in field deployments. This increases reproducibility of the measurements. Chemcatcher® can be deployed in water for periods of weeks to months to continually sequester pollutants.

The device yields time-weighted average concentrations and detects complex mixtures of pollutants present below the limits of detection when using spot sampling. Different classes of pollutants can be measured by varying the combination of receiving phase and diffusion membrane in the Chemcatcher®. These pollutants include  (non-polar organic, polar organic, metals, nutrients and radionuclides).

Chemcatcher® research projects at Portsmouth

We have recently collaborated with a number of organisations including an environmental agency (Natural Resources Wales), water companies (Affinity Water, Anglian Water,  Southern Water, South-West Water, Thames Water and United Utilities) and universities (Imperial College London, King’s College London, University of Bath, University of Lyon and University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa). This work has focussed on measurement of polar pesticides, pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water.

Where can I source Chemcatcher®?

Chemcatcher® is a registered trademark in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

Today, the worldwide licence to manufacture and sell Chemcatcher® is held by T.E. Laboratories (TelLab) – an Irish company active in environmental analytic services and new product development.

To purchase Chemcatcher® systems, components and accessories, visit TelLab’s dedicated Chemcatcher® site at, call +353 59 9152881 or email

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