Using in situ solid phase microextraction (SPME) for depth profiling in sediments treated with activated carbon

Ryan D. Stringer, Joel G. Burken, Andrew Curtis Elmore, Danny D. Reible

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Sediment contamination in US waterways is an expensive and complicated issue, and as acceptance of nontraditional sediment remediation strategies broadens, novel and efficient methods to assess and monitor the bioavailability of hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs) in contaminated sediments will play an important role. Materials and methods: In this project, solid phase microextraction (SPME) fibers inside perforated steel tubes were used as in situ passive samplers to measure polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations in sediment before and after treatment with activated carbon (AC). Two modes of waterjet amendment injection were used to apply the AC. In the first treatment, a single 2-min injection was shot into the center of a test vessel, and in the second treatment, multiple 7-s injections in a grid were placed in sediment. Results and discussion: In the single injection, no treatment was observed 5 cm away from the injection, while at 2.5 cm, >90 % decrease of PAH pore water concentration was observed, indicating a similar bioavailability decrease. In the multiple injection experiment, >90 % PAH pore water level reductions were observed throughout the test vessel. Highly contaminated and less contaminated sediments were mixed with 0–5 % AC by weight to develop AC treatment curves. Over 99 % reduction in PAH pore water concentrations and bioavailability was observed in the less contaminated sediment at 3 % AC, while 99 % reduction was never reached even at 5 % AC addition in the highly contaminated sediment. Different treatment curves were observed for the different contaminated sediments. In situ equilibration times were 120, 215, and 250 h for phenanthrene, pyrene, and benzo(a)anthracene, respectively. Conclusions: The results show that in situ SPME is a viable method to observe AC treatment and evaluate reductions in pore water concentrations and bioavailability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1020
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2014


  • Depth profile
  • PAH
  • Passive sampling
  • SPME
  • Waterjet


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