Great Lakes Passive Sampling

Great Lakes Passive Sampling is a research project that was conducted by the Lohmann Lab at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. By deploying polyethylene passive samplers in the water and air throughout the Lake Ontario and Lake Erie region, we can measure levels of persistent hydrophobic organic pollutants and analyze how the amounts of these chemicals change at different locations.

Polyethylene passive samplers are essentially just pieces of plastic that can absorb hydrophobic contaminants from the air or water. To obtain data in many different areas, we depended on a network of volunteers.

To check out findings from past years of passive sampling, check out our Data page.

List of Great Lakes Passive Sampling Volunteers

Air samplers in Fairport Harbor, OH

Passive Sampling by Volunteers

How to Deploy Passive Samplers: An Instructional Film for Volunteers



For more detailed information on how samplers are set up, click here.

To see how we process samplers after they’re sent back to the lab, click here

The Lohmann Lab conducted extensive sampling throughout the Great Lakes region throughout 2011-2014, and now we’re hard at work analyzing the data and interpreting results from the study. While we aren’t currently running a large scale sampling campaign, we always like to hear from people in the region who are interested in future sampling efforts, or have an interest in learning more about pollution in their region. For more information on volunteering  in your area, visit the Volunteer Resources Page, or feel free to contact us. You can also check us out on Facebook.

2013 Sampling Sites: Focus on Cleveland

In 2013, samples were placed throughout the greater Cleveland area to learn more about how air pollutants from urban sources travel into other regions. Samplers were deployed by many helpful groups of volunteers, including the Cleveland Department of Public Health and high school students at Hathaway Brown School.

Graduate student Carrie McDonough shows Hathaway Brown students how to set up a passive air sampler


Sampling Site Maps

2011 Sampling Sites

2012 Sampling Sites


This material is based upon work supported by the Environmental Protection Agency. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the EPA. 

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