Phytoscreening with SPME: Variability Analysis


Phytoscreening has been demonstrated at a variety of sites over the past 15 years as a low-impact, sustainable tool in delineation of shallow groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents. Collection of tree cores is rapid and straightforward, but low concentrations in tree tissues requires sensitive analytics. Solid-phase microextraction (SPME) is amenable to the complex matrix while allowing for solvent-less extraction. Accurate quantification requires the absence of competitive sorption, examined here both in laboratory experiments and through comprehensive examination of field data. Analysis of approximately 2,000 trees at numerous field sites also allowed testing of the tree genus and diameter effects on measured tree contaminant concentrations. Collectively, while these variables were found to significantly affect site-adjusted perchloroethylene (PCE) concentrations, the explanatory power of these effects was small (adjusted R2 = 0.031). 90th quantile chemical concentrations in trees were significantly reduced by increasing Henry's constant and increasing hydrophobicity. Analysis of replicate tree core data showed no correlation between replicate relative standard deviation (RSD) and wood type or tree diameter, with an overall median RSD of 30%. Collectively, these findings indicate SPME is an appropriate technique for sampling and analyzing chlorinated solvents in wood and that phytoscreening is robust against changes in tree type and diameter.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Ground water; Soil pollutants; Tetrachloroethylene; Volatile organic compound; Analysis; Bioremediation; Environmental monitoring; Metabolism; Missouri; Procedures; Solid phase microextraction; Species difference; Tree; Biodegradation; Environmental; Environmental Monitoring; Groundwater; Missouri; Species Specificity; Tetrachloroethylene; Trees; Volatile Organic Compounds; Chlorinated solvents; Phytoforensics; Phytoremediation; Tree-coring

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1522-6514; 1549-7879

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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Publication Date

01 May 2015