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Considerations involved with the use of semipermeable membrane devices for monitoring environmental contaminants

January 1, 2000

Semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs) are used with increasing frequency, and throughout the world as samplers of organic contaminants. The devices can be used to detect a variety of lipophilic chemicals in water, sediment/soil, and air. SPMDs are designed to sample nonpolar, hydrophobic chemicals. The maximum concentration factor achievable for a particular chemical is proportional to its octanol–water partition coefficient. Techniques used for cleanup of SPMD extracts for targeted analytes and for general screening by full-scan mass spectrometry do not differ greatly from techniques used for extracts of other matrices. However, SPMD extracts contain potential interferences that are specific to the membrane–lipid matrix. Procedures have been developed or modified to alleviate these potential interferences. The SPMD approach has been demonstrated to be applicable to sequestering and analyzing a wide array of environmental contaminants including organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated dioxins and dibenzofurans, selected organophosphate pesticides and pyrethroid insecticides, and other nonpolar organic chemicals. We present herein an overview of effective procedural steps for analyzing exposed SPMDs for trace to ultra-trace levels of contaminants sequestered from environmental matrices.