An improved design of a passive sampler for polar organic compounds based on diffusion in agarose hydrogel

  • Jakub Urík
  • Branislav VranaEmail author
Research Article


Passive samplers based on diffusive gradients in thin hydrogel films (DGT) were recently modified for sampling of polar organic compounds in water. However, since the sampling rates of the commonly used DGT design with the surface area of 3.1 cm2 are low, we propose to increase them by applying a two-sided design with a larger sampling surface area of 22.7 cm2. The sampler design consists of two sorptive hydrogel disks compressed between two diffusive hydrogel disk layers strengthened by nylon netting and held together by two stainless steel rings. Sorbent/water distribution coefficients (KSW) were determined, and the sampler was calibrated for monitoring 11 perfluoroalkyl substances and 12 pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water at laboratory conditions using a closed system with artificial flow generated by submersible pumps. A field performance test was conducted at five locations in the Morava River basin in Czech Republic. The median value of laboratory-derived sampling rates was 43 mL day−1 with extreme values of 2 mL day−1 and 90 mL day−1 for perfluorotridecanoic and perfluoroheptanoic acids, respectively. The log KSW values of tested compounds ranged from 3.18 to 5.47 L kg−1, and the estimated halftime to attain sampler-water equilibrium ranged from 2 days to more than 28 days, which is the maximum recommended exposure period, considering potential issues with the stability of hydrogel. The sampler can be used for assessment of spatial trends as well as estimation of aqueous concentration of investigated polar compounds.


Hydrogel Passive sampling Polar organic compounds Diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT) Water monitoring 



We acknowledge the SOLUTIONS Project supported by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-ENV-2013-two-stage collaborative project) under grant agreement 603437. The research activities were carried out in the RECETOX Research Infrastructure supported by the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (LM2015051), and the European Structural and Investment Funds, Operational Programme “Research, Development, Education” (CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_013/0001761). We thank Foppe Smedes for his valuable pieces of advice during our research; Petra Přibylová, Jitka Bečanová and Pavlína Karásková for the instrumental analysis of the samples; Barbara Kubíčková and Ondřej Sáňka for their assistance in the preparation of Figures S1 and S9 (SI); Roman Prokeš for the assistance in the field testing; Kateřina Švecová and Vendula Greéová for the assistance in the laboratory experiments; and David Konečný for his advice on the scientific writing (all from RECETOX, Masaryk University).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Science, Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment (RECETOX)Masaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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