SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  14 February 2013
Volume 14 Issue 2

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Executive Summary for “Guidance on Passive Sampling Methods to Improve Management of Contaminated Sediments” Now Available

Tom Parkerton, ExxonMobil Biomedical Science and Keith Maruya Southern California Coastal Water Research Project

The SETAC technical workshop “Guidance on Passive Sampling Methods to Improve Management of Contaminated Sediments” was held 7–9 November 2012 in Costa Mesa, California. Management of contaminated sediments is a global challenge. Given the high costs and slow progress associated with remediation of contaminated sediments, there is increasing recognition that new approaches are needed to achieve more timely and accurate risk reduction. Historically, chemical analysis of bulk or whole sediments has served as a key line of evidence in decision-making. However, traditional analytical methods that are based on exhaustive extraction procedures that yield “total concentrations” of sediment contaminants do not account for bioavailability that influences exposure and subsequent risk. Passive sampling methods (PSMs) that target the freely dissolved concentrations of contaminants in sediment with a reference sampling phase provide a new paradigm for overcoming these traditional model limitations by directly measuring contaminant bioavailability in sediments.

Passive Sampling Workshop group

Workshop participants sought to promote understanding of PSMs and provide recommendations for current and future use in contaminated sediment management decisions. The scope covered freshwater, estuarine and marine sediments and major contaminant classes. Four work groups were comprised of 45 international experts from business, academia and government, with an aim to represent all stakeholders. Participants first summarized the available literature on PSM measurements and past uses in sediment investigation contexts. They were then asked to provide the scientific rationale that supported PSM measurements as an improved basis for exposure and risk characterization, and guidance for lab and field deployment. Finally, they were tasked with defining current management applications and future opportunities.

The executive summary that describes the content and broadly captures the findings of this workshop is now available on the SETAC website.

The detailed workshop proceedings are being submitted to the SETAC journals Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management. The executive summary and the proceedings are intended to promote a greater understanding and use of PSMs in effective management of contaminated sediments.

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