Sampling colloids and colloid-associated contaminants in ground water

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It has recently been recognized that mobile colloids may affect the transport of contaminants in ground water. To determine the significance of this process, knowledge of both the total mobile load (dissolved + colloid-associated) and the dissolved concentration of a ground-water contaminant must be obtained. Additional information regarding mobile colloid characteristics and concentrations are required to predict accurately the fate and effects of contaminants at sites where significant quantities of colloids are found. To obtain this information, a sampling scheme has been designed and refined to collect mobile colloids while avoiding the inclusion of normally immobile subsurface and well-derived solids. The effectiveness of this sampling protocol was evaluated at a number of contaminated and pristine sites.

The sampling results indicated that slow, prolonged pumping of ground water is much more effective at obtaining ground-water samples that represent in situ colloid populations than bailing. Bailed samples from a coal tar-contaminated site contained 10–100 times greater colloid concentrations and up to 750 times greater polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations as were detected in slowly pumped samples. The sampling results also indicated that ground-water colloid concentrations should be monitored in the field to determine the adequacy of purging if colloid and colloid-associated contaminants are of interest. To avoid changes in the natural ground-water colloid population through precipitation or coagulation, in situ ground-water chemistry conditions must be preserved during sampling and storage. Samples collected for determination of the total mobile load of colloids and low-solubility contaminants must not be filtered because some mobile colloids are removed by this process. Finally, suggestions that mobile colloids are present in ground water at any particular site should be corroborated with auxiliary data, such as colloid levels in “background” wells, colloid-size distributions, ground-water geochemistry, and colloid surface characteristics.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Sampling colloids and colloid-associated contaminants in ground water
Series title Groundwater
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-6584.1993.tb01849.x
Volume 31
Issue 3
Year Published 1993
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, U.S. Geological Survey, Contaminant Biology Program
Description 23 p.
First page 466
Last page 479
Country United States
State Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York
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