Comparison of POCIS and grab sampling techniques for monitoring PPCPs in vernal pools in central Pennsylvania

Kathryn R. Hayden, Heather E. Preisendanz, Kyle R. Elkin, Laura B. Saleh, Jamie Weikel, Tamie L. Veith, Herschel A. Elliott, John E. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Active ingredients in pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) can persist through wastewater treatment plants and be released into the environment where they can inadvertently pose risks to non-target organisms. Emerging contaminants (ECs), including PPCPs, are commonly detected in wastewater effluent. With the increasing beneficial re-use of treated wastewater globally, there is a need to understand how spray-irrigation activities affect the occurrence and persistence of ECs in the environment to which they are introduced. Here, we explore the impacts of wastewater spray-irrigation on nearby ephemeral wetlands (e.g., vernal pools) through the use of grab and Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Sampling (POCIS) techniques. This study sought to determine whether integrative sampling techniques are better suited than traditional grab sampling techniques in assessing the presence and concentrations of ECs in vernal pools by evaluating 34 ECs in six vernal pools in central Pennsylvania. Three pools were impacted by wastewater spray-irrigation activities and three were in a nearby forested area. Results of this study found that POCIS detected a wide range of 25 ECs (log Kow between −2.6 and 9.37) more or, in some cases, equally frequently, relative to grab samples. Additionally, grab samples were found to best capture short-lived elevated inputs of ECs (from irrigation events) while POCIS were found to best capture ECs that were present in vernal pools over a longer period of time (weeks to months). For ECs detected more frequently in grab samples, concentrations were higher compared to time weighted average aqueous concentrations estimated from POCIS. This study advances understanding of the potential impact of wastewater beneficial reuse on vernal pools and informs how best to monitor the presence of ECs in vernal pools using integrative and grab sampling techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number150607
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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