GSO graduate student Victoria Paris Sacks was awarded 1st place by the Montgomery-Watson-Harza Consulting Engineers/Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors for her Master’s Thesis “Validation of Polyethylene Passive Samplers for the Detection of Emerging Contaminants” in the Master’s Thesis category. Her research, advised by Dr. Rainer Lohmann, focused on using a novel, low-tech method of measuring waterborne contaminants from personal care products, pharmaceutical, and industrial processes not previously known as pollutants (e.g. polybrominated diphenylethers, nonylphenols, and triclosan).
The samplers used in the research were strips of polyethylene plastic film that were placed in various locations in Narragansett Bay for a period of time. Due to the low-tech nature of the samplers, deployment was simple; forty volunteers from communities around the state assisted in deploying and retrieving the samplers at twenty-seven locations. The strips were then analyzed in a laboratory at GSO.
The passive samplers did detect emerging contaminants, but at extremely low levels, in some cases two to three orders of magnitude lower than what may be considered harmful.
For further information, please see this press release.