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Potential Use of Environmental Isotopes in Pollutant Migration Studies

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This article presents the use of natural abundance stable isotope (hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, chlorine) analysis data as a tool for providing important information about the origin of contaminants, the contribution of different sources to a multi-source plume, characterisation of their complex transport (rate and mechanisms) and for evaluating the success of contaminated site remediation. Isotopic signatures of contaminants are useful tracers of their sources, while isotopic fractionation can be used to quantitatively assess the progress of an environmental process such as biodegradation. This new isotopic approach is reliable and can offer more information than traditional techniques in pollutant migration studies, particularly after waste disposal. During biological degradation of any organic compound, molecules containing lighter isotopes are degraded, and the portion of heavier isotopes in the substrate is increased, identifying specific microbial roles in biogeochemical cycling. Since isotopic fractionation is proportional to degradation, depending on the type of contamination, a microbial degradation of 50% to 99% of the initial concentration can be quantified using isotope ratio measurements.

Anglais, Slovenian
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Sujets de la revue:
Medicine, Basic Medical Science, other