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Guidance on the Use of Passive-Vapor-Diffusion Samplers to Detect Volatile Organic Compounds in Ground-Water-Discharge Areas, and Example Applications in New England

U.S. Geological Survey
Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4186

By Peter E. Church, Don A.Vroblesky, and Forest P. Lyford,
U.S. Geological Survey, and Richard E. Willey,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Northborough, Massachusetts 2002


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Abstract

Polyethylene-membrane passive-vapor-diffusion samplers, or PVD samplers, have been shown to be an effective and economical reconnaissance tool for detecting and identifying volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in bottom sediments of surface-water bodies in areas of ground-water discharge. The PVD samplers consist of an empty glass vial enclosed in two layers of polyethylene membrane tubing. When samplers are placed in contaminated sediments, the air in the vial equilibrates with VOCs in pore water. Analysis of the vapor indicates the presence or absence of VOCs and the likely magnitude of concentrations in pore water.

Examples of applications at nine hazardous-waste sites in New England demonstrate the utility of PVD samplers in a variety of hydrologic settings, including rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands, and coastal shorelines. Results of PVD sampling at these sites have confirmed the presence and refined the extent of VOC-contaminated ground-water-discharge areas where contaminated ground water is known, and identified areas of VOC-contaminated ground-water discharge where ground-water contamination was previously unknown. The principal VOCs detected were chlorinated and petroleum hydrocarbons. Vapor concentrations in samplers range from not detected to more than 1,000,000 parts per billion by volume. These results provided insights about contaminant distributions and ground-water-flow patterns in discharge areas, and have guided the design of focused characterization activities.

CONTENTS

Abstract

Introduction

Advantages and Limitations of Passive-Vapor-Diffusion Samplers

Advantages

Limitations

PART 1. Guidance on the Use of Passive-Vapor-Diffusion Samplers

        By Don A. Vroblesky

Assembly of Samplers

Deployment of Samplers

Recovery of Samplers

Factors Affecting Deployment of Samplers and Data Interpretation

Quality Control and Assurance

PART 2. Example Applications in New England

Eastern Surplus Company Superfund Site, Meddybemps, Maine

    By Forest P. Lyford and Edward M. Hathaway
Description of Study Area

Purpose and Design of Sampling

Results

McKin Company Superfund Site, Gray, Maine

    By Forest P. Lyford, Terrence R. Connelly, and Laura E. Flight

Description of Study Area

Purpose and Design of Sampling

Results

Nutmeg Valley Road Superfund Site, Wolcott and Waterbury, Connecticut

    By John R. Mullaney, Peter E. Church, and
    Carolyn J. Pina-Springer

Description of Study Area

Purpose and Design of Sampling

Results

Baird & McGuire Superfund Site, Holbrook, Massachusetts

    By Jennifer G. Savoie and Melissa G. Taylor

Description of Study Area

Purpose and Design of Sampling

Results

Allen Harbor Landfill, Davisville Naval Construction Battalion Center Superfund Site, North Kingstown, Rhode Island

    By Forest P. Lyford, William C. Brandon, and
    Christine A. P. Williams

Description of Study Area

Purpose and Design of Sampling

Results

Calf Pasture Point, Davisville Naval Construction Battalion Center Superfund Site, North Kingstown, Rhode Island

    By Forest P. Lyford, Christine A. P. Williams, and
    William C. Brandon

Description of Study Area

Purpose and Design of Sampling

Results

Otis Air National Guard/Camp Edwards Superfund Site, Johns Pond, Falmouth, Massachusetts

    By Jennifer G. Savoie and Denis R. LeBlanc

Description of Study Area

Purpose and Design of Sampling

Results

Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump Superfund Site, Ashland, Massachusetts

    By Forest P. Lyford, Richard E. Willey, and Sharon M. Hayes

Description of Study Area

Purpose and Design of Sampling

Results

Centredale Manor Restoration Project Superfund Site, North Providence, Rhode Island

    By Peter E. Church, Forest P. Lyford, and
    Anna F. Krasko

Description of Study Area

Purpose and Design of Sampling

Results

Quality-Assurance Procedures

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

Appendix 1. Laboratory and Field Testing of Passive-Vapor-Diffusion
                 Sampler Equilibration Times, Temperature Effects, and
                 Sample Stability
                 By Don A. Vroblesky

Equilibration Times and Temperature Effects

Sample Stability

Appendix 2. Field Screening of Volatile Organic Compounds Collected
                 with Passive-Vapor-Diffusion Samplers with a Gas
                 Chromatograph

                 By Scott Clifford


For additional information write to:

 

Chief, Massachusetts-Rhode Island District

U.S. Geological Survey

10 Bearfoot Road

Northborough, MA 01532

 

dc_ma@usgs.gov

 

Copies of this report can be purchased from:

 

U.S. Geological Survey

Branch of Information Services

Box 25286, Federal Center

Denver, CO 80225

 

1-888-ASK-USGS

 

Information about U.S. Geological Survey program in Massachusetts is available on the Internet at:

 

http://ma.water.usgs.gov


 

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