Improved Monitoring of Aquatic Pollutants in National Water Resources

ARC Linkage Project

Clean water is predicted to become the world’s most valuable asset during this century, necessitating the improved monitoring of Australia’s limited water resources. Using a new and integrated monitoring approach, this project expects to develop and implement novel passive sampling technologies to monitor a range of water pollutants, specifically toxic ionised organic chemicals of emerging concern. The outcomes of this project will create cost-effective tools to advance the detection of emerging chemicals in drinking, ground, surface, and wastewater. The technology will benefit millions of Australians by safeguarding essential water resources.


Passive samplers have been created and calibrated through this project and have been successfully applied to monitoring campaigns in Australia and overseas (Spain and the Czech Republic) for the detection of a range of chemicals of emerging concern. These include pesticides, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and illicit drugs. The samplers are helping inform levels of trace contaminants in a range of water systems in Australia.

Research Outputs

Clokey, J.E., Hawker, D.W., Verhagen, R., Gorji, S.G., Knight, E.R., Thomas, K.V. and Kaserzon, S.L., 2023. Calibration of a microporous polyethylene tube passive sampler for polar organic compounds in wastewater effluent. Science of The Total Environment874, p.162497.

Soriano, Y., Alvarez-Ruiz, R., Clokey, J., Gorji, S., Kaserzon, S. and Picó, Y., 2023. Determination of Organic Contaminants in L´ Albufera National Park Using Microporous Polyethylene Tube Passive Samplers: An Environmental Risk Assessment. Available at SSRN 4348397.

Hawker, D.W., Clokey, J., Gorji, S.G., Verhagen, R. and Kaserzon, S.L., 2022. Monitoring techniques–Grab and passive sampling. In Emerging Freshwater Pollutants (pp. 25-48). Elsevier.

Schulze, B., van Herwerden, D., Allan, I., Bijlsma, L., Etxebarria, N., Hansen, M., Merel, S., Vrana, B., Aalizadeh, R., Bajema, B. and Dubocq, F., 2021. Inter-laboratory mass spectrometry dataset based on passive sampling of drinking water for non-target analysis. Scientific Data8(1), p.223.

Verhagen, R., Tscharke, B.J., Clokey, J., Gerber, C., Ghetia, M., Kaserzon, S.L., Thomas, K.V. and Mueller, J.F., 2021. Multisite calibration of a microporous polyethylene tube passive sampler for quantifying drugs in wastewater. Environmental Science & Technology55(19), pp.12922-12929.

Rauert, C., Kaserzon, S.L., Veal, C., Yeh, R.Y., Mueller, J.F. and Thomas, K.V., 2020. The first environmental assessment of hexa (methoxymethyl) melamine and co-occurring cyclic amines in Australian waterways. Science of the Total Environment743, p.140834.

Verhagen, R., Kaserzon, S.L., Tscharke, B.J., Shukla, P., Clokey, J., Vrana, B., Thomas, K.V. and Mueller, J.F., 2020. Time-integrative passive sampling of very hydrophilic chemicals in wastewater influent. Environmental Science & Technology Letters7(11), pp.848-853.

McKay, S., Tscharke, B., Hawker, D., Thompson, K., O'Brien, J., Mueller, J.F. and Kaserzon, S., 2020. Calibration and validation of a microporous polyethylene passive sampler for quantitative estimation of illicit drug and pharmaceutical and personal care product (PPCP) concentrations in wastewater influent. Science of The Total Environment704, p.135891.

Research Impact

The tools developed through this project are being utilised by industry partners such as VIC EPA, DES QLD, NSW DPIE, Trop Water, and CSIRO to monitor and assess the environmental and human risks from a range of environmental water pollutants. 

Grant Support

This project is part of an ARC Linkage grant in collaboration with the following partners:

  • Victoria EPA
  • Seqwater
  • Queensland Health
  • Norwegian Institute for Sea Research (NIVA)


Project members

A/Prof Sarit Kaserzon

Co-Theme Leader, Environmental Health Risk Assessment

Prof Kevin Thomas

QAEHS Director
and Theme Leader, Environmental Health Toxicology