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The use of passive membrane samplers to assess organic contaminant inputs at five coastal sites in west Maui, Hawaii

July 26, 2017

Five passive membrane samplers were deployed for 28 continuous days at select sites along and near the west Maui coastline to assess organic compounds and contaminant inputs to diverse, shallow coral reef ecosystems. Daily and weekly fluctuations in such inputs were captured on the membranes using integrative sampling. The distribution of organic compounds observed at these five coastal sites showed considerable variation; with high concentrations of terrestrially sourced organic compounds such as C29 sterols and high molecular weight n-alkanes at the strongly groundwater-influenced Kahekili vent site. In comparison, the coastal sites were presumably influenced more by seasonal surface and stream water runoff and therefore had marine-sourced organic compounds and fewer pharmaceuticals and personal care products. The direct correlation to upstream land-use practices was not obvious and may require additional wet-season sampling. Pharmaceuticals and personal care products as well as flame retardants were detected at all sites, and the Kahekili vent site had the highest number of detections. Planned future work must also determine the organic compound and contaminant concentrations adsorbed onto water column particulate matter, because it may also be an important vector for contaminant transport to coral reef ecosystems. The impact of contaminants per individual (such as fecundity and metabolism) as well as per community (such as species abundance and diversity) is necessary for an accurate assessment of environmental stress. Results presented herein provide current contaminant inputs to select nearshore environments along the west Maui coastline captured during the dry season, and they can be useful to aid potential future evaluations and (or) comparisons.