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EF Notes: Tracking Sources of Mercury Contamination Using Stable Isotopes


March 31, 2010

Exponent is pleased to feature the newest addition of the Environmental Forensics Notes, with the feature article: "Tracking Sources of Mercury Contamination Using Stable Isotopes."

Many elements occur in nature as mixtures of stable isotopes. For example, carbon 12 (12C) isotope is the most common form of carbon (99 percent of all carbon) and has 6 neutrons in the carbon atom. The 13C isotope (1 percent of all carbon) has one extra neutron (7) and is therefore "heavier" than 12C. Stable isotope techniques (for example, determination of the ratio of 13C/12C) have been applied to examining ecological relationships such as food webs, tracing and tracking the degradation of organic contaminants, and detecting organic contaminants as they degrade, as well as to identification of the sources of hydrocarbons and other organic compounds such as trichlorethylene (TCE).  Read more.

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