In situ, autonomous sampling devices for inorganic and organic contaminants in water and sediments are available by our research group. In rivers, estuaries, and coastal systems, passive sampling devices are attached to mooring systems, while in open sea or deep water (> 30m) they are attached to a SeaExplorer glider. Passive samplers provide the labile fraction, which corresponds to the toxic fraction, of the contaminant. On the extracts of the passive sampler emerging organic and inorganic pollutants can be measured with various techniques. In our lab we dispose of CALUX bioassay to measure the toxicity of EDCs such as estrogens, dioxins, PCBs, PAHs, etc., while emerging metals such as Tl and Platinum Group Elements (PGEs) can be assessed with HR-ICPMS. Speciation of highly toxic elements such as methylmercury or inorganic As(III) and As(V) is performed with hyphenated techniques. Speciation, transport, temporal and spatial changes of contaminants in aquatic systems can be determined. Exchange fluxes between sediment and water column are deduced from high resolution 1D profiles. For the metals, even 2D images can be produced using Laser Ablation-ICPMS.
AMGC (Analytical, Environmental and Geochemistry) at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is a research department with a long-standing research and monitoring expertise in aquatic systems. These studies include the functioning of aquatic ecosystems (productivity and cycling of essential elements) and the contamination of these ecosystems (water quality and cycling of toxic compounds and elements). We have projects running at national and international levels.