Contamination Sources



Waste & Pollution

As the urban population is growing globally and this effect is coupled with increasing consumption, waste management has become one of the most serious environmental challenges in urban areas, with adverse effects on the quality of life, human health, environmental and natural resources, and economic and social development. It is important to know the composition of a load of waste before it is send to landfill. On the other hand, only through developing an intimate understanding of the chemistry of organic chemicals can their eventual remediation be realized.

TOC in waste

Landfills are classified according to whether they can accept hazardous, non-hazardous or inert wastes. In waste management, TOC acts as a measure for contamination with organic compounds and is also used to perform quality control (QC) checks on industrial materials such as fly ash, cement, and kaolin. Also if you evaluate the recycling of residues – there is no way around TOC.

Temperature-dependent carbon fractions

The differentiation between two carbon fractions (TIC and TOC) could be insufficient as biologically inactive, residual oxidizable carbon is determined in the same fraction as TOC. When evaluating solid wastes, elemental carbon (ROC) should be determined separately, since there is no need to restrict the load of ROC to landfills. An alternative method for the determination of elemental carbon is temperature ramping as elemental carbon requires higher combustion temperatures compared to organically-bound carbon, which is realized by the soli TOC® cube.

Sources and fate of contamination

Stable isotope analysis has the power to deliver unparalleled insight into the complex interactions of organic pollutants in the environment. It can elucidate the often complex sources and fates of pollutant chemicals on land and at sea, aiding remediation strategy and shaping waste and resource management policy for protection of the environment. Developing our understanding of these processes aids our stewardship of the natural world to ensure that future generations enjoy the same wonders that we do today.

Waste & Pollution publications using our instruments

Our customers use our instruments to do some amazing research in the waste and pollution application field. To show you how they perform their research and how they use our IRMS instruments, we have collected a range of peer-reviewed publications which cite our products. You can find the citations below and then follow the links to the publishing journal should you wish to download the publication.

If you would like to investigate our available citations in more detail, or email the citation list to yourself or your colleagues then take a look at our full citation database.

84 results:

Internal loading of phosphate in Lake Erie Central Basin
Science of The Total Environment (2016)
Adina Paytan, Kathryn Roberts, Sue Watson, Sara Peek, Pei-Chuan Chuang, Delphine Defforey, Carol Kendall

After significant reductions in external phosphorus (P) loads, and subsequent water quality improvements in the early 1980s, the water quality of Lake Erie has declined considerably over the past decade. The frequency and magnitude of harmful algal blooms (primarily in the western basin) and the extent of hypoxic bottom waters in the central basin have increased. The decline in ecosystem health, despite meeting goals for external P loads, has sparked a renewed effort to understand P cycling in the lake. We use pore-water P concentration profiles and sediment cores incubation experiments to quantify the P flux from Lake Erie central basin sediments. In addition, the oxygen isotopes of phosphate were investigated to assess the isotopic signature of sedimentary phosphate inputs relative to the isotopic signature of phosphate in lake water. Extrapolating the total P sediment flux based on the pore-water profiles to the whole area of the central basin ranged from 300 to 1250metric tons per year and using the flux based on core incubation experiments an annual flux of roughly 2400metric tons of P is calculated. These estimates amount to 8–20% of the total external input of P to Lake Erie. The isotopic signature of phosphate in the extractable fraction of the sediments (~18‰) can explain the non-equilibrium isotope values of dissolved phosphate in the deep water of the central basin of Lake Erie, and this is consistent with sediments as an important internal source of P in the Lake.

The distribution of nitrogen speciation and sources of nitrate in the north of Taihu Lake
Environmental Earth Sciences (2016)
Da Li, Xia Jiang, Kun Wang, Binghui Zheng

Meiliang Bay and Gonghu Bay, in the north of Taihu Lake, are important water sources for the city of Wuxi, and increased eutrophication now threatens the safety of drinking water. The distribution of nitrogen (N) speciation and source of N in the surface waters in the north of Taihu Lake is studied, which was an important first step in controlling N pollution. The result shows that the average concentration of ammonia (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3−) of surface water in Meiliang Bay was 0.32 and 0.35 mg/L, while 0.21 and 0.74 mg/L of Gonghu Bay, in which both bays had serious nitrate pollution. The concentrations of NH4+ and NO3− in the surface water of the two bays had a trend of gradual decrease from north to south. The maximum concentrations of NH4+ and NO3− of two bays were observed near the inflowing rivers, and the maximum concentrations of NH4+ in surface water of two bays were 0.49 and 0.61, and 0.77 and 1.38 mg/L of NO3−. The concentration of NH4+ in the interstitial water of the two bays had a trend of gradual decrease from west to east, but NO3− had the opposite tendency. The maximum concentrations of NH4+ in the interstitial water of the two bays were 5.88 and 4.64, and 3.58 and 7.18 mg/L of NO3−. The exchangeable NH4+ content in the sediment of Meiliang Bay had a trend of gradual decrease from north to south, but Gonghu Bay showed the reverse. The exchangeable NO3− content in the sediment of Meiliang Bay had a trend of gradual decrease from east to west, but a decreasing trend from north to south was observed in Gonghu Bay. The maximum concentrations of exchangeable NH4+ were determined, and the values were 96.25 and 74.90 mg/kg, as well as NO3− with the values of 12.06 and 7.08 mg/kg. Chemical fertilizer and domestic sewage were the major sources of nitrate in surface water of Gonghu Bay, contributing 39.16 and 47.79%, respectively. Domestic sewage was the major source of nitrate in Meiliang Bay, contributing 84.79%. The denitrification process in Gonghu Bay was more apparent than in Meiliang Bay. Mixing and dilution processes had important effects on changing the concentration of nitrate transportation in the two bays.
Tags: nitrogen , oxygen , poll , gashead

Characterization of a site contaminated by chlorinated ethenes and ethanes using multi-analysis
Environmental Earth Sciences (2016)
Dugin Kaown, Seong-Chun Jun, Rak-Hyeon Kim, Shin Woosik, Kang-Kun Lee

Chlorinated ethenes and ethanes are the most commonly detected groundwater contaminants in industrial areas. Compound-specific stable isotope analysis combined with hydrogeological, and geochemical analyses was applied to identify contaminant sources and to monitor the natural degradation processes of chlorinated ethenes and ethanes in an industrial area of Asan, Korea. The concentrations of the detected trichloroethene (TCE) and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA) ranged from 0.004 to 5.8 mg/L and from non-detected to 1.8 mg/L in August 2013. TCE concentrations correspond to 65–87 % of the molar fraction of the volatile organic compounds. Most of the flow system in the study area is aerobic with dissolved oxygen (DO) ranging 0.1–8.3 mg/L. The highest concentration of TCE (5.8 mg/L) and the most depleted δ13C and δ37Cl values (−27.1 and −1.7 ‰, respectively) were observed in the well near an electrical parts company, indicating a source area. The slight enrichments in both the carbon and chlorine isotopic values of contaminants in some wells can be explained by isotopic shifts caused by degradation processes in the study area. 1,1-dichloroethene (1,1-DCE) was present in higher concentrations than cis-DCE and trans-DCE. The concentrations of 1,1-DCA, the biotic degradation product of 1,1,1-TCA, were much lower than those of 1,1-DCE due to the limited anaerobic conditions of the study area. High correlations of 1,1-DCE and 1,1,1-TCA in the study area indicated that some 1,1-DCE might be the dehydrohalogenation product of 1,1,1-TCA. Further isotopic analysis of 1,1,1-TCA are recommended to identify the degradation pathway of 1,1,1-TCA. Hydrogeochemical, VOCs, and dual isotope data showed that dilution with an insignificant rate of biodegradation is the main process attenuating VOCs in the groundwater system. Thus, an active remediation plan is necessary to reduce contaminant concentration in the study area.

Identification of nitrate sources in groundwater using a stable isotope and 3DEEM in a landfill in Northeast China.
The Science of the total environment (2016)
Zhifei Ma, Yu Yang, Xinying Lian, Yonghai Jiang, Beidou Xi, Xing Peng, Kun Yan

The groundwater was sampled in a typical landfill area of the Northeast China. Coupled stable isotope and three dimensional excitation-emission matrix (3DEEM) were applied to dentify diffused NO3(-) inputs in the groundwater in this area. The results indicated that combined with the feature of groundwater hydrochemistry and three-dimensional fluorescence technology can effectively identify the nitrate pollution sources. The nitrate was derived from manure and sewage by δ(15)N and δ(18)O-NO3(-) values of groundwater in the different periods. The excitation-emission matrix fluorescence spectroscopy was further evidence of groundwater DOM mainly which comes from the landfill. The protein-like was very significant at the sampling points near the landfill (SPNL), but only fulvic acid-like appeared at downstream of the landfill groundwater sampling points (DLGSP) in the study area. Partial denitrification processes helped to attenuate nitrate concentration in anaerobic environment.

Synergistic Processing of Biphenyl and Benzoate: Carbon Flow Through the Bacterial Community in Polychlorinated-Biphenyl-Contaminated Soil.
Scientific reports (2016)
Mary-Cathrine Leewis, Ondrej Uhlik, Mary Beth Leigh

Aerobic mineralization of PCBs, which are toxic and persistent organic pollutants, involves the upper (biphenyl, BP) and lower (benzoate, BZ) degradation pathways. The activity of different members of the soil microbial community in performing one or both pathways, and their synergistic interactions during PCB biodegradation, are not well understood. This study investigates BP and BZ biodegradation and subsequent carbon flow through the microbial community in PCB-contaminated soil. DNA stable isotope probing (SIP) was used to identify the bacterial guilds involved in utilizing (13)C-biphenyl (unchlorinated analogue of PCBs) and/or (13)C-benzoate (product/intermediate of BP degradation and analogue of chlorobenzoates). By performing SIP with two substrates in parallel, we reveal microbes performing the upper (BP) and/or lower (BZ) degradation pathways, and heterotrophic bacteria involved indirectly in processing carbon derived from these substrates (i.e. through crossfeeding). Substrate mineralization rates and shifts in relative abundance of labeled taxa suggest that BP and BZ biotransformations were performed by microorganisms with different growth strategies: BZ-associated bacteria were fast growing, potentially copiotrophic organisms, while microbes that transform BP were oligotrophic, slower growing, organisms. Our findings provide novel insight into the functional interactions of soil bacteria active in processing biphenyl and related aromatic compounds in soil, revealing how carbon flows through a bacterial community.

The Impact of Climate, Sulfur Dioxide, and Industrial Dust on δ 18 O and δ 13 C in Glucose from Pine Tree Rings Growing in an Industrialized Area in the Southern Part of Poland
Water, Air, & Soil Pollution2 (2016)
Barbara M. Sensuła

The mass spectrometric analysis of the impact of sulfur dioxide and dust emission on carbon and oxygen stable isotopic compositions of glucose hydrolysed from α-cellulose samples extracted from Scots pine growing in the vicinity of “Huta Katowice” steelworks was the main aim of this study. The annual rings covered the time span from 1975 to 2012 AD. The relationships between climatic conditions, sulfur dioxide, and industrial dust emission and oxygen and carbon isotopic compositions were analyzed using correlation function methods. This study shows the first analysis of carbon and oxygen stable isotopes in glucose as the bio-indicators of CO2, sulfur dioxide, and industrial dust emission. The anticoincidence trend of δ18O and δ13C and dust and sulfur dioxide confirms that the decreases of dust and sulfur dioxide industrial emission increase δ18O and δ13C values in glucose.

Identification of abiotic and biotic reductive dechlorination in a chlorinated ethene plume after thermal source remediation by means of isotopic and molecular biology tools
Journal of Contaminant Hydrology (2016)
Alice Badin, Mette M. Broholm, Carsten S. Jacobsen, Jordi Palau, Philip Dennis, Daniel Hunkeler

Thermal tetrachloroethene (PCE) remediation by steam injection in a sandy aquifer led to the release of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from aquifer sediments resulting in more reduced redox conditions, accelerated PCE biodegradation, and changes in microbial populations. These changes were documented by comparing data collected prior to the remediation event and eight years later. Based on the premise that dual C-Cl isotope slopes reflect ongoing degradation pathways, the slopes associated with PCE and TCE suggest the predominance of biotic reductive dechlorination near the source area. PCE was the predominant chlorinated ethene near the source area prior to thermal treatment. After thermal treatment, cDCE became predominant. The biotic contribution to these changes was supported by the presence of Dehalococcoides sp. DNA (Dhc) and Dhc targeted rRNA close to the source area. In contrast, dual C-Cl isotope analysis together with the almost absent VC 13C depletion in comparison to cDCE 13C depletion suggested that cDCE was subject to abiotic degradation due to the presence of pyrite, possible surface-bound iron (II) or reduced iron sulphides in the downgradient part of the plume. This interpretation is supported by the relative lack of Dhc in the downgradient part of the plume. The results of this study show that thermal remediation can enhance the biodegradation of chlorinated ethenes, and that this effect can be traced to the mobilisation of DOC due to steam injection. This, in turn, results in more reduced redox conditions which favor active reductive dechlorination and/or may lead to a series of redox reactions which may consecutively trigger biotically induced abiotic degradation. Finally, this study illustrates the valuable complementary application of compound-specific isotopic analysis combined with molecular biology tools to evaluate which biogeochemical processes are taking place in an aquifer contaminated with chlorinated ethenes.

Enhanced waste activated sludge digestion using a submerged anaerobic dynamic membrane bioreactor: performance, sludge characteristics and microbial community.
Scientific reports (2016)
Hongguang Yu, Zhiwei Wang, Zhichao Wu, Chaowei Zhu

Anaerobic digestion (AD) plays an important role in waste activated sludge (WAS) treatment; however, conventional AD (CAD) process needs substantial improvements, especially for the treatment of WAS with low solids content and poor anaerobic biodegradability. Herein, we propose a submerged anaerobic dynamic membrane bioreactor (AnDMBR) for simultaneous WAS thickening and digestion without any pretreatment. During the long-term operation, the AnDMBR exhibited an enhanced sludge reduction and improved methane production over CAD process. Moreover, the biogas generated in the AnDMBR contained higher methane content than CAD process. Stable carbon isotopic signatures elucidated the occurrence of combined methanogenic pathways in the AnDMBR process, in which hydrogenotrophic methanogenic pathway made a larger contribution to the total methane production. It was also found that organic matter degradation was enhanced in the AnDMBR, thus providing more favorable substrates for microorganisms. Pyrosequencing revealed that Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes were abundant in bacterial communities and Methanosarcina and Methanosaeta in archaeal communities, which played an important role in the AnDMBR system. This study shed light on the enhanced digestion of WAS using AnDMBR technology.

Pan-Arctic concentrations of mercury and stable isotope ratios of carbon (δ(13)C) and nitrogen (δ(15)N) in marine zooplankton.
The Science of the total environment (2016)
Corinne Pomerleau, Gary A Stern, Monika Pućko, Karen L Foster, Robie W Macdonald, Louis Fortier

Zooplankton play a central role in marine food webs, dictating the quantity and quality of energy available to upper trophic levels. They act as "keystone" species in transfer of mercury (Hg) up through the marine food chain. Here, we present the first Pan-Arctic overview of total and monomethylmercury concentrations (THg and MMHg) and stable isotope ratios of carbon (δ(13)C) and nitrogen (δ(15)N) in selected zooplankton species by assembling data collected between 1998 and 2012 from six arctic regions (Laptev Sea, Chukchi Sea, southeastern Beaufort Sea, Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Hudson Bay and northern Baffin Bay). MMHg concentrations in Calanus spp., Themisto spp. and Paraeuchaeta spp. were found to increase with higher δ(15)N and lower δ(13)C. The southern Beaufort Sea exhibited both the highest THg and MMHg concentrations. Biomagnification of MMHg between Calanus spp. and two of its known predators, Themisto spp. and Paraeuchaeta spp., was greatest in the southern Beaufort Sea. Our results show large geographical variations in Hg concentrations and isotopic signatures for individual species related to regional ecosystem features, such as varying water masses and freshwater inputs, and highlight the increased exposure to Hg in the marine food chain of the southern Beaufort Sea.
Tags: carbon , nitrogen , ecol , ocea , poll , elem

Source apportionment of atmospheric ammonia before, during, and after the 2014 APEC summit in Beijing using stable nitrogen isotope signatures
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions (2016)
Yunhua Chang, Xuejun Liu, Congrui Deng, Anthony J Dore, Guoshun Zhuang

Stable nitrogen isotope composition (δ 15 N) offers new opportunities to address the 15 long-standing and ongoing controversy regarding the origins of ambient ammonia (NH 3), a vital precursor of PM 2.5 inorganic components, in the urban atmosphere. In this study, the δ 15 N values of NH 3 samples collected from various sources were constrained using a novel and robust chemical method coupled with standard elemental analysis procedures. Independent of the wide variation in mass concentrations (ranging from 33 (vehicle) to over 6000 (human excreta) μg m -3), different NH 3 sources 20 have generally different δ 15 N values (ranging from -52.0 to -9.6‰). Significantly high δ 15 N values are seen as a characteristic feature of all vehicle-derived NH 3 samples (-14.2±2.8‰), which can be distinguished from other sources emitted at environmental temperature (-29.1±1.7, -37.8±3.6, and -50.0±1.8‰ for livestock, waste, and fertilizer, respectively). The isotope δ 15 N signatures for a range of NH 3 emission sources were used to evaluate the contributions 25 of the different sources within measured ambient NH 3 in Beijing, using an isotope mixing model (IsoSource). The method was used to quantify the sources of ambient NH 3 before, during and after the 2014 APEC summit, when a set of stringent air quality control measures were implemented. Results show that the average NH 3 concentrations (the overall contributions of traffic, waste, livestock, and fertilizer) during the three periods were 9.1 (15.1, 31.2, 23.7, and 30.0%), 7.3 (8.8, 24.9, 14.3, and 30 1 Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., doi:10.5194/acp-2016-432, 2016 Manuscript under review for journal Atmos. Chem. Phys. Published: 13 June 2016 c Author(s) 2016. CC-BY 3.0 License. 52.0%), and 12.7 (29.4, 23.6, 31.7, and 15.4%) μg m -3 , respectively, representing a 20.0% decrease first and then a 74.5% increase in overall NH 3 mass concentrations. During (after) the summit, the contributions of traffic, waste, livestock, and fertilizer decreased (increased) by 58.7 (234.2), 0.9 (-5.0), 41.0 (120.8), and -87.6% (-70.5%) when compared with periods before (during) the summit, respectively, signifying that future NH 3 control efforts in megacities like Beijing should prioritize traffic 35 sector as well as livestock breeding. The results show that isotope ratio measurements of NH 3 to be a valuable tool to quantify the atmospheric sources of NH 3 in urban atmospheres.
Tags: nitrogen , poll , gashead