Mini (15.2 cm) semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs) were used successfully in 169 streams from six metropolitan areas of the US to sequester hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) that are indicative of urbanization. A microscale assay the P450RGS, which responds to compounds that bind to the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), and the Fluoroscan, a chemical screen for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), were performed on each mini SPMD extract. Results show both tests were sensitive enough to respond in streams with low urbanization and responded exponentially in a predictable way to a gradient of urbanization. Mini SPMDs had sufficient sampling rates to detect HOCs using gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detection (GC/MS) in streams with low levels of urbanization. The total number of HOCs in streams had a linear response to a gradient of urbanization, where 73 of 140 targeted compounds were detected. A diverse group of compounds was found in urban streams including, PAHs, insecticides, herbicides, musk fragrances, waste water treatment compounds and flame retardants. Pentachloroanisole (PCA), a breakdown product of pentachlorophenol (wood preservative), was the most ubiquitous HOC, and was detected in 71% of streams. An evaluation of mini SPMD performance showed they can detect concentrations in water below toxicity benchmarks for many HOCs with the exception of 2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. A comparison of mini SPMDs with full sized (91.4 cm) SPMDs showed they have several distinct advantages. The most notable advantages are their low cost, small size, and reduced chance of vandalism. The greatest limitation is the inability to detect compounds at low concentrations (pg/L). Mini SPMDs perform quite well in a wide array of environmental settings and applications and should be considered as an option in environmental studies.
Goodbred, S. L., Bryant, W. L., Rosen, M. R., Alvarez, D., & Spencer, T. (2009). How useful are the “other” semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs); the mini-unit (15.2 cm long)? Science of the Total Environment, 407(13), 4149–4156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.02.037