Jenna Armstrong sets up a passive air sampler in an orchard to test for airborne pesticide.Photo:
Courtesy of Jenna Armstrong.
A major obstacle to comprehensively detecting airborne pesticides in the environment is that traditional sampling devices are only able to monitor limited areas. Now, a method to passively sample the air for pesticides has been developed by Jenna Armstrong (PhD, 2013), in collaboration with faculty members Richard Fenske and Michael Yost. These passive samplers are small, inexpensive, and portable, greatly expanding the potential range available for air sampling and detection of airborne pesticides. The technology, described in the September 2014 issue of Chemosphere, detects airborne pesticides with a sensitivity comparable to conventional or “active” pesticide samplers, without requiring electrical power to capture samples from the air using a pump. The requirement for electricity limits the locations where standard pesticide detectors may be installed. Passive samplers are of particular promise for monitoring airborne pesticide levels in the developing world, where installation of conventional detectors is logistically infeasible. This research was supported by the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center and the Center for Child Environmental Risks Research in our department and the Washington State Department of Health Pesticide Program.