Preliminary evaluation of the occurrence of herbicides and PAHs in the Wet Tropics region of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, using passive samplers.

Abstract

The proximity of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park to areas of intensive agriculture and increasing urbanisation places the park under potential threat of contamination by land-based pollutants. Passive samplers were deployed at inshore reef and river mouth sites in the Wet Tropics region of the GBR during a dry and a wet season to measure levels of land-based organic pollutants in this environment. Two types of passive sampling devices were deployed: (i) a polar sampler, which can be used to monitor polar herbicides and (ii) semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs) which sequester more hydrophobic compounds (e.g. PAHs, chlorpyrifos). Herbicides (diuron, simazine, atrazine, hexazinone and/or flumeturon) were detected at low concentrations (ng L(-1)) at all sites sampled and in both seasons. Chlorpyrifos was not detected while PAHs were present in SPMDs at levels below limits of detection. The results show that the GBR environment does contain low levels of organic pollutants and that passive sampling provides a sensitive monitoring tool for measuring waterborne organic pollutants.

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