Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 264329
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: Germany

Environmental contaminants tracked from source to sink

Compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA) is an important tool for tracking the origin of chemicals and, looking to the future, their subsequent distribution. This can be crucial information in an environmental or forensic study.
Environmental contaminants tracked from source to sink
The project CSI:ENVIRONMENT (Isotope forensics meets biogeochemistry – Linking sources and sinks of organic contaminants by compound specific isotope investigation) has accelerated the progress of CSIA by training 16 young scientists in the state of the art in this area.

It is important in investigations to identify the origin, source, distribution pathways and potential sinks of chemical spills. Concepts and applications were available for the more simple organic contaminants such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes and chlorinated ethenes, but not for more complex organic contaminants such as pesticides or brominated flame retardants.

CSI:ENVIRONMENT successfully implemented the training programme. Integral to the course were methods for sampling and isolating and pre-concentrating organic compounds, multi-element isotope analysis and improved understanding of isotope fractionation processes. Interpretation of isotope signals in environmental systems using mathematical models was also covered.

Projects included many areas as yet unexplored in isotope analysis technology. Analytical methods are now available for new compound classes, complex environmental matrices, polar compounds and the element chlorine, not available before CSI:ENVIRONMENT research. Tools developed also help to understand the processes behind photodegradation mechanisms.

Reactive transport modelling was used in the analysis of isotope data. Models have been developed to use isotope data to evaluate the sources and amount of degradation of environmental pollutants at local to global scale. Theoretical models are now available for better interpretation of isotope fractionation factors of environmentally relevant compounds.

More than 20 papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals and around 40 presentations of the results at conferences. High-profile dissemination in the area of research was achieved at the ISOTOPES-2013 conference Sopot, Poland. For dissemination to the public and a wider audience, CSI:ENVIRONMENT was the subject of newspaper articles, press releases, open-access publication, contact with stakeholders, information points for the public and farmers at the field sites, talks at universities and general public conferences.

By training young scientists in the rapidly advancing field of isotope technology, the CSI:ENVIRONMENT project has helped to establish a platform on which to base future research. The quality of environmental monitoring and risk assessment of organic contaminants in Europe stand to improve by the dissemination of knowledge from the newly qualified scientists.

Related information


Compound-specific isotope analysis, forensic, CSI:ENVIRONMENT, organic contaminants
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