• Low-density polyethylene;
  • Passive sampling;
  • Hydrophobic organic compound;
  • Open water;
  • Field validation


A passive water sampler with low-density polyethylene (LDPE) as the sorbent phase was built and field-tested for sensing freely dissolved concentrations of hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) in fresh and coastal water. Based on the measured LDPE–water partition coefficients (Kpew) of 12 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and its seven metabolites, the detection limits with the passive sampler containing 10-g LDPE ranged from 0.04 to 56.9 pg/L in the equilibrium sampling mode. Furthermore, the utility of the passive sampler in measuring dissolved HOC concentrations in open waters was examined through a comparison with solid-phase extraction combined with liquid–liquid extraction (SPE-LLE) and poly(dimethyl)siloxane (PDMS) coated fiber samplers. The total concentrations of PAHs (3.8–16 ng/L) obtained by the passive sampler were lower than those (87.7–115.5 ng/L) obtained through SPE-LLE. This large difference was probably attributable to slower water exchange in and out of the passive sampler as time progressed because of blockage by algae in eutrophia reservoirs and high dissolved organic carbon contents resulting in higher-than-expected PAH concentrations by SPE-LLE. Furthermore, the concentrations and compositional profiles of DDXs (sum of p,p′-DDT, p,p′-DDD, p,p′-DDE, o,p′-DDT, o,p′-DDD, o,p′-DDE, and p,p′-DDMU) at site A obtained by the passive sampler agreed with the results obtained with the PDMS-coated fibers, suggesting that the passive sampler was able to reasonably quantify dissolved HOCs in seawater. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012; 31: 1012–1018. © 2012 SETAC