Selenium isotope geochemistry: A new approach to characterizing the environmental chemistry of selenium. Final report
Description: High levels of selenium in the environment will be a prominent water quality issue in the western United States for many years. Selenium accumulation is linked to increased rates of death and deformity in migratory birds, blind staggers in livestock, and selenosis in humans. In California, agricultural drain waters and oil refinery effluent contribute to high selenium content in the San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco Bay. The importance of these industries to California`s economy precludes simple abatement, while the complexity of selenium cycling precludes simple remediation. The purpose of this project is to measure variations in the isotopic composition of selenium in water and soil samples caused by natural processes and to show, for the first time, the value of isotopic measurements in characterizing selenium pollution. The research seeks to identify sources of selenium pollution, determine processes in the selenium cycle, and support selenium remediation studies. The project required the successful integration of three components: (1) appropriate sampling a field setting showing Se enrichment and possibly isotopic fractionation, (2) analytical chemical methods for isolating and purifying the various species of Se in waters and sediment, and (3) mass spectroscopic instrumentation for high precision isotope abundance measurements.
Date: February 5, 1997
Creator: Volpe, A.M. & Esser, B.K.
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