REF2014 Impact Case Study: The Chemcatcher - an approved passive sampler for monitoring water quality

  • Graham Mills (Participant)

Impact: Public Policy Impacts, Health & Welfare Impacts, Environmental Impacts

Description of impact

The development and marketing of the Chemcatcher passive sampler has significantly improved the way water quality is monitored. We have contributed to the development of national and international standards for the use of passive samplers, and the dissemination of results to end users has facilitated the uptake of passive sampling technology worldwide. Our passive samplers have been used to monitor a diverse range of environmental problems, from pharmaceuticals in drinking water to the release of radioactive caesium after the Fukushima nuclear reactor incident in Japan.

Who is affected

End-users within the environmental monitoring community, environment agencies and water companies.


Most established methods of monitoring pollutants in water are based on taking grab or spot samples. This approach does not provide a representative sample of the overall water quality required by regulation or risk assessment. Passive sampling can provide a more effective and representative method of collecting data. Passive sampling can provide time-weighted average concentrations of pollutants over periods of two to four weeks of deployment and can capture pollutants that are only present episodically.
EU funding allowed the development of a robust, reusable sampler that could be used with all classes of pollutants and was designed to be compatible with existing laboratory analytical techniques. The devise was called Chemcatcher and the design was patented in the UK and USA.
Environmental agencies in the UK and in Europe adopted Chemcatcher for their water sampling and as a result of the Chemcatcher trails, EU documentation supporting the Water Framework Directive recommended passive sampling as an acceptable monitoring method. This recognition resulted in countries such as Japan and Australia adopting the Chemcatcher.
Impact statusOpen
Category of impactPublic Policy Impacts, Health & Welfare Impacts, Environmental Impacts
Impact levelBenefit (delivered impact)


  • water quality


  • REF2014