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Determination of (4-methylcyclohexyl)methanol isomers by heated purge-and-trap GC/MS in water samples from the 2014 Elk River, West Virginia, chemical spill

January 1, 2015

A heated purge-and-trap gas chromatography/mass spectrometry method was used to determine the cis- and trans-isomers of (4-methylcyclohexyl)methanol (4-MCHM), the reported major component of the Crude MCHM/Dowanol™ PPh glycol ether material spilled into the Elk River upriver from Charleston, West Virginia, on January 9, 2014. The trans-isomer eluted first and method detection limits were 0.16-μg L−1trans-, 0.28-μg L−1cis-, and 0.4-μg L−1 Total (total response of isomers) 4-MCHM. Estimated concentrations in the spill source material were 491-g L−1trans- and 277-g L−1cis-4-MCHM, the sum constituting 84% of the source material assuming its density equaled 4-MCHM. Elk River samples collected ⩽ 3.2 km downriver from the spill on January 15 had low (⩽2.9 μg L−1 Total) 4-MCHM concentrations, whereas the isomers were not detected in samples collected 2 d earlier at the same sites. Similar 4-MCHM concentrations (range 4.2–5.5 μg L−1 Total) occurred for samples of the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky, on January 17, ∼630 km downriver from the spill. Total 4-MCHM concentrations in Charleston, WV, office tap water decreased from 129 μg L−1 on January 27 to 2.2 μg L−1on February 3, but remained detectable in tap samples through final collection on February 25 indicating some persistence of 4-MCHM within the water distribution system. One isomer of methyl 4-methylcyclohexanecarboxylate was detected in all Ohio River and tap water samples, and both isomers were detected in the source material spilled.

Publication Year 2015
Title Determination of (4-methylcyclohexyl)methanol isomers by heated purge-and-trap GC/MS in water samples from the 2014 Elk River, West Virginia, chemical spill
DOI 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.11.006
Authors William T. Foreman, Donna L. Rose, Douglas B. Chambers, Angela S. Crain, Lucinda K. Murtagh, Haresh Thakellapalli, Kung K. Wang
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Chemosphere
Index ID 70188370
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Branch of Analytical Serv (NWQL)