Determining the chemical activity of hydrophobic organic compounds in soil using polymer coated vials

Fredrik Reichenberg, Foppe Smedes, Jan-Åke Jönsson, Philipp Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background: In soils contaminated by hydrophobic organic compounds, the concentrations are less indicative of potential exposure and distribution than are the associated chemical activities, fugacities and freely dissolved concentrations. The latter can be measured by diffusive sampling into thin layers of polymer, as in, for example, solid phase micro-extraction. Such measurements require equilibrium partitioning of analytes into the polymer while ensuring that the sample is not depleted. We introduce the validation of these requirements based on parallel sampling into polymer layers of different thicknesses.

Results: Equilibrium sampling devices were made by coating glass vials internally with 3-12 mu m thick layers of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). These were filled with slurries of a polluted soil and gently agitated for 5 days. The concentrations of 7 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the PDMS were measured. Validation confirmed fulfilment of the equilibrium sampling requirements and high measurement precision. Finally, chemical activities of the PAHs in the soil were determined from their concentrations and activity coefficients in the PDMS.

Conclusion: PAHs' thermodynamic activities in a soil test material were determined via a method of uptake into PDMS. This can be used to assess chemical exposure and predict diffusion and partitioning processes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalChemistry Central Journal
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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