Most commercially available auto-sampling devices do not support a continuous flow-proportional sampling mode, which would conceptually be the best for collecting representative composite samples. Instead different discrete sampling modes are available. Household chemicals can show considerable random short-term variations. With the anticorrosive benzotriazole, relating to a middle-frequent household activity, we show that, besides an accurate flow meter, mainly three factors are decisive for the representativeness of a substance's average load: the substance's load pattern, the sampling frequency and the length of the composite sample. When the sampling intervals are 10 minutes or longer, errors in the order of ±40% (standard deviation) or more have to be accepted, if the substance of interest is contained in a low number of wastewater pulses (i.e. the level of household activity). This particularly holds true for specific pharmaceuticals e.g. carbamazepine. Ammonium would be less critical, because it relates to a larger number of sources in the same catchment.

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