Fourteen wells were instrumented with diffusion samplers as a test to determine whether the samplers could be used to obtain representative volatile organic compound concentrations at a study site in Sacramento, California. Single diffusion samplers were placed in 10-foot-long well screens, and multiple diffusion samplers were positioned in 20-foot-long well screens. Borehole geophysical logs and electromagnetic flowmeter tests were run in selected wells with 20-foot-long well screens prior to deploying the samplers. The diffusion samplers were recovered after 25 to 30 days, and the wells were then sampled by using the purge-and-sample method. In most wells, the concentrations obtained by using the downhole diffusion samplers closely matched those obtained by using the purge-and-sample method. In seven wells, the concentrations differed between the two methods by only 2 micrograms per liter (g/L) or less. In three wells, volatile organic compounds were not detected in water obtained by using either method. In the four remaining wells, differences between the methods were less than 2g/L in the 0.2- to 8.5-g/L concentration range and from 1.2 to 8.7g/L in the 10- to 26-g/L concentration range. Greater differences (23 percent or 14.5g/L, 31 percent or 66g/L, and 46 percent or 30g/L) between the two methods were observed for tetrachloroethene concentrations, which ranged between 30 and 211g/L in three wells. The most probable explanation for the differences is that in some wells, the purging induced drawdowns and introduced water that differed in volatile organic compound concentrations from the in situ water in contact with the screened interval of the well. Alternate explanations include the possibility of unrecorded changes in nearby contaminant-extraction-well operation during the equilibration period. The data suggest that the combined use of borehole flowmeter tests and diffusion samplers may be useful in optimizing the radius of capture of contaminated ground water by the contaminant-removal wells. Overall, the data suggest that the use of diffusion samplers provided an alternative sampling method to the purge-and-sample approach.
1U.S. Geological Survey, Stephenson Center, Suite 129, 720 Gracern Road, Columbia, South Carolina 29210-7651.
2U.S. Geological Survey, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, California 95819-6129.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Investigation of polyethylene passive diffusion samplers for sampling volatile organic compounds in ground water at Davis Global Communications, Sacramento, California, August 1998 to February 1999
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