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Examining natural attenuation and acute toxicity of petroleum-derived dissolved organic matter with optical spectroscopy

May 1, 2018

Groundwater samples containing petroleum-derived dissolved organic matter (DOMHC) originating from the north oil body within the National Crude Oil Spill Fate and Natural Attenuation Research Site near Bemidji, MN, USA were analyzed by optical spectroscopic techniques (i.e., absorbance and fluorescence) to assess relationships that can be used to examine natural attenuation and toxicity of DOMHC in contaminated groundwater. A strong correlation between the concentration of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and absorbance at 254 nm (a254) along a transect of the DOMHCplume indicates that a254 can be used to quantitatively assess natural attenuation of DOMHC. Fluorescence components, identified by parallel factor (PARAFAC) analysis, show that the composition of the DOMHC beneath and adjacent to the oil body is dominated by aliphatic, low O/C compounds (“protein-like” fluorescence) and that the composition gradually evolves to aromatic, high O/C compounds (“humic-/fulvic-like” fluorescence) as a function of distance downgradient from the oil body. Finally, a direct, positive correlation between optical properties and Microtox acute toxicity assays demonstrates the utility of these combined techniques in assessing the spatial and temporal natural attenuation and toxicity of the DOMHC in petroleum-impacted groundwater systems.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Examining natural attenuation and acute toxicity of petroleum-derived dissolved organic matter with optical spectroscopy
DOI 10.1021/acs.est.8b00016
Authors David C. Podgorski, Phoebe Zito, Jennifer McGuire, Dalma Martinovic-Weigelt, Isabelle M. Cozzarelli, Barbara A. Bekins, Robert G. M. Spencer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science & Technology
Series Number
Index ID 70197976
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Research Program - Eastern Branch