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Open Access Isotope Effects as New Proxies for Organic Pollutant Transformation

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Assessing the pathways and rates of organic pollutant transformation in the environment is a major challenge due to co-occurring transport and degradation processes. Measuring changes of stable isotope ratios (e.g. 13C/12C, 2H/1H, 15N/14N) in individual organic compounds by compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA) makes it possible to identify degradation pathways without the explicit need to quantify pollutant concentration dynamics. The so-called isotope fractionation observed in an organic pollutant is related to isotope effects of (bio)chemical reactions and enables one to characterize pollutant degradation even if multiple processes take place simultaneously. Here, we illustrate some principles of CSIA using benzotriazole, a frequently observed aquatic micropollutant, as example. We show subsequently how the combined C and N isotope fractionation analysis of nitroaromatic compounds reveals kinetics and mechanisms of reductive and oxidative reactions as well as their (bio)degradation pathways in the environment.

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Keywords: COMPOUND-SPECIFIC ISOTOPE ANALYSIS; DEGRADATION MECHANISM; KINETIC ISOTOPE EFFECT; POLLUTANT TRANSFORMATION

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science & Technology Department of Environmental Chemistry Überlandstr. 133 CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland; Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics, ETH Zürich, Switzerland. [email protected] 2: Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science & Technology Department of Environmental Chemistry Überlandstr. 133 CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland 3: Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science & Technology Department of Environmental Chemistry Überlandstr. 133 CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland; Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics, ETH Zürich, Switzerland 4: Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science & Technology Department of Environmental Chemistry Überlandstr. 133 CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland; Institute of Environmental Engineering, EPF Lausanne, Switzerland 5: Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics, ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Publication date: November 1, 2014

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  • International Journal for Chemistry and Official Membership Journal of the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS) and its Divisions

    CHIMIA, a scientific journal for chemistry in the broadest sense, is published 10 times a year and covers the interests of a wide and diverse readership. Contributions from all fields of chemistry and related areas are considered for publication in the form of Review Articles and Notes. A characteristic feature of CHIMIA are the thematic issues, each devoted to an area of great current significance.

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