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South Dakota Water Science Center

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Compositing Water Samples for Analysis of Volatile Organic Compounds

Tom J. Lopes, James D. Fallon, and Terry L. Muluk

U.S. Geological Survey, 1608 Mountain View Road, Rapid City, South Dakota 57702, USA
Phone (605) 355-4560, ext. 240, Telecopier (605) 355-4523,

Accurate mean concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can easily and economically be obtained from a single VOC analysis by using proven methods of collecting representative, discrete water samples and compositing them with a gas-tight syringe. The technique can be used in conjunction with chemical analysis by a conventional laboratory, field-portable equipment, or a mobile laboratory. The type of mean concentration desired depends on the objectives of monitoring. For example, flow-weighted mean VOC concentrations can be used to estimate mass loadings in wastewater and urban stormwater and spatially-integrated mean VOC concentrations can be used to assess sources of drinking water (e.g. reservoirs and rivers). The mean error in a discrete sample due to compositing is about 2 percent for most VOC concentrations greater than 0.1 ug/L. The total error depends on the number of discrete samples comprising the composite sample and precision of the chemical analysis.


1999, Journal of Environmental Engineering, ASCE

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