An Analysis of Using Semi-Permeable Membrane Devices to Evaluate the Distribution of Persistent Organic Pollutants in Alaska

EPA Grant Number: U916094
Title: An Analysis of Using Semi-Permeable Membrane Devices to Evaluate the Distribution of Persistent Organic Pollutants in Alaska
Investigators: Wu, Ted H-Y.
Institution: University of Alaska - Fairbanks
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: January 1, 2002 through January 1, 2005
Project Amount: $126,270
RFA: Minority Academic Institutions (MAI) Fellowships for Graduate Environmental Study (2002) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Environmental Science and Engineering


The objective of this research project is to quantify and qualify the distribution of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Alaska's troposphere using triolein containing semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs). The research methods include: (1) conducting a side-by-side comparison of triolein containing SPMDs to an active air sampling device in Barrow, Alaska; (2) developing uptake rates of POPs into SPMDs at various temperatures; (3) determining if triolein containing SPMDs only sample vapor phase constituents, particulate phase constituents or a mixture of both; (4) determining if sunlight affects the concentrations of POPs within SPMDs; and (5) obtaining a 1-year, north-to-south assessment of POPs at five established metrological sites in Alaska.


In March 2002, scientists from the Battelle Pacific Northwest Division began sampling for 90 polychlorinated biphenyls; 40 organochlorine pesticides, herbicides or their metabolites; and 14 polyaromatic hydrocarbons in Barrow, Alaska. They collected air samples using high-volume air samples at Barrow for 1 year. The measurements were made using methods that conformed to those made at other Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme sites. Beginning in July 2002, triolein containing SPMDs were deployed next to the active sampler for comparison. Calibration curves for uptake rates of POPs into SPMDs will be developed in the laboratory for different temperatures to relate observed levels within the triolein to atmospheric concentrations. To determine the effectiveness of SPMDs at sequestering different POP phases, two sealed containers housing SPMDs will be deployed. One container will contain a quartz filter prior to a SPMD to remove particulate phase constituents. The other container will house an SPMD with no filters. Comparison of the two samples should determine how much, if any, particulate phase constituents will accumulate in the SPMD. To assess if sunlight affects the levels of POPs within an SPMD, transparent lids will be used on several housing units, and the observed POPs concentrations will be compared to SPMD housed in nontransparent lids. Data from these activities will help to interpret SPMD-obtained contaminant concentrations for field samples. A 1-year deployment of SPMDs at five sites along a transect from northern to southern Alaska will be assessed. The five locations will include Barrow, Poker Flat Research Range, Denali National Park, Trapper Creek, and Homer.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, persistent organic pollutants, POPs, semipermeable membrane devices, SPMDs, triolein.

Relevant Websites:

2004 STAR Graduate Fellowship Conference Poster (PDF, 1p., 138KB, about PDF)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002
  • 2003
  • Final