Event-triggered passive sampling for cost-effective regulatory monitoring

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Lancaster Environment Centre


Pollutants harmful to the environment, humans and other animals enter the atmosphere and rivers from a variety of sources and particularly from agricultural and industrial processes. Pollutant release may be from 'acute' incidents which are immediate, of high concentration and usually from easily located 'point' sources (e.g. accidental chemical spillage). It may also be from 'chronic' incidents, effective over a longer term and from 'diffuse' sources which are difficult to pinpoint and with impacts at considerable distances (e.g. pollution arising from the application of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides which may eventually reach and affect aquatic ecosystems). Government regulatory bodies, such as the UK Environment Agency, monitor and assess pollution levels in waterbodies in relation to legal safety standards or codes of good practice. Regular monitoring requires measurements which, if conducted on a 24/7 basis, are expensive and time consuming to obtain and yield enormous data loads for analysis. The effectiveness and efficiency of monitoring could be improved if samplers could be designed to switch on in response to key environmental triggers which are associated with high risk of pollution exceeding regulatory levels. Our project will design environment-triggered samplers for specific pollutants and test them under conditions of changes in water flow caused by the triggers of heavy rainfall and changes in wind direction and speed.


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