Brent Pautler, PhD, will present “The Development of an Equilibrium Passive Sampler for PFAS Detection and Exposure Assessment in Sediment Pore Water, Surface Water and Groundwater” at the virtual Great Lakes PFAS Summit, which runs from December 5 through 7, 2023.

Brent’s coauthors are SiREM’s Alexander Sweett, Iryna Ilina, and Jeff Roberts, as well as Anh Pham and Blessing Medon of the University of Waterloo; Florent Risacher, Lisa A. D’Agostino, Rachel Zajac-Fay, and Jason Conder of Geosyntec; Jeremy Gauthier and Scott Mabury of the University of Toronto; Amila O. De Silva, and Cassandra J. Brinovcar of Environment and Climate Change Canada; Andrew Patterson, Patricia McIsaac, and Robert Mitzel of Eurofins Environment Testing America.

Brent received his PhD in environmental analytical chemistry in 2013 where he gained advanced technical experience in spectroscopy, chromatography, mass spectrometry, passive sampling, and chemistry informatics. Throughout his career, he has worked with scientists, engineers, and consultants, applying his expertise in chemistry and information technology to help solve unique problems in the laboratory and the field. He manages and advances SiREM’s passive sampling portfolio and analytical testing services and supports business development for compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA).

The Great Lakes PFAS Summit will bring together environmental program managers, policy experts, researchers, and contractors from around the Great Lakes region to share new methods of addressing PFAS contamination and present innovative technical solutions developed to address these “forever” chemicals.

Working side-by-side with partners at local, regional, state, and federal levels, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy safeguards Michigan’s environment while supporting the economic growth and development crucial for the state’s future.


Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) have emerged as a concern in aquatic environments due to their persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity. The established sampling protocols and PFAS concentration determination in sediment and surface water currently only captures the total concentration at a single timepoint and represents the entire mass of PFAS present, which may overestimate bioavailable PFAS exposure. Equilibrium passive sampling can be used to assess bioavailability and risk through the dissolved phase of contaminants, but researchers have only started investigating potential passive sampling solutions for PFAS. Given their partial water-solubility and the ability of analytical laboratories to detect trace amounts of PFAS in water, a diffusion-based equilibrium passive sampler was hypothesized to be a good candidate. When deployed, analytes dissolved in the water or sediment equilibrate with the water in the sampler through the membrane. Through a series of bench-scale experiments, factors affecting the migration of several PFAS into a diffusion cell were tested. The results of these experiments suggested that the uptake of PFAS into the sampler was the fastest with polycarbonate membrane-based samplers, that the solution chemistry did not influence the PFAS uptake, PFAS were not lost on or produced from sampler materials and that this sampler could be used to monitor multiple PFAS compounds. The sampler was further tested in two in situ field pilots in a small Ontario PFAS impacted lake. Targeted analysis suggested that equilibrium was reached in 14 days for surface water, an average 75-percent equilibrium for porewater after 28 days and were all within a factor of 2 or less with averaged grab-sample results. Non-targeted analysis from the samplers showed more diversity in species and the applicability for detection of additional PFAS analytes. Future experiments include direct comparison with tissue samples to further validate the relationship between passive sampling, exposure, risk, and bioaccumulation.

 More Information

About the event and to register: 2023 Great Lakes PFAS Summit (

For consultation regarding passive samplers for PFAS, contact Brent at

Learn more about Brent: Meet the Team – SiREM (