Presenter: Dr Natalia Montero

Postdoctoral Researcher, AZTI-Tecnalia, Marine Research Division, Spain and the University of Cagliari, Department of Public Health, Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Italy


According to The Water Framework Directive (WFD) the chemical status of water bodies must be determined by comparing the concentrations of priority substances with Environmental Quality Standards (EQSs). However, spot sampling (usually monthly to quarterly sampling frequency), might not provide representative levels of individual pollutants, especially in highly dynamic systems such as estuaries. Thus, this approach may yield values that cannot be compared meaningfully with the established EQSs.

Since the adoption of the first list of priority substances in 2001, new compounds have been included based on the latest scientific knowledge. Nowadays, 45 compounds are listed, including metals and organic compounds. As highlighted by the publication of a ‘WatchList’ in2 015, indicating the contaminants of emerging concern (CEC), as research advances new contaminants will arise as potential priority substances. However, up to date, there are not ready-to-use conventional techniques to guarantee their measurement at relevant EQS level.

Passive samplers might be a suitable alternative to spot sampling for the monitoring of pollutants in estuaries and coastal areas. The aims of the present study were (i) to obtain a comprehensive overview of contaminants distribution within a highly-impacted estuary in the Basque Country (northern Spain) by means of a set of passive samplers and (ii) to investigate their potentiality to comply with the requirements of European Directives. Hence, three types of passive samplers were deployed at two stations and seasons (September 2016 and March 2017) in the estuary, covering a wide range of priority substances and CEC: Diffusive Gradients in Thin-films (DGTs; for metals), Silicon Rubber (SR; for PAHs, PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, UV filters) and Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers (POCIS; for Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products). SR and POCIS were deployed in triplicate for 40 days while DGTs were deployed in triplicate every 13 days to cover the entire sampling period. This study provides a step forward with the inclusion of passive samplers within monitoring networks.


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