Polar Compounds from the Dissolution of Weathered Diesel

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Abstract

Hydrocarbon and nonhydrocarbon components dissolving in water from fresh diesel and field samples of highly weathered diesel (spilled up to 50 years ago) from two sites were investigated. The fresh and weathered diesels were equilibrated with water using a slow-stirring method, and the product and equilibrated aqueous water samples analyzed by a range of analytical procedures. The water phase equilibrated with weathered diesels had higher total dissolved organics concentrations (96 and 8.6 mg/L at the two sites) compared to the water phase equilibrated with fresh diesel (average of 3.4 mg/L). Compound class characterization of dissolved organics in water from the weathered diesel showed that polar components were a significant compound class (98% and 42% at the two sites) and appeared largely as an unresolved complex mixture (UCM) in the total ion chromatograms (TICs). Identification of 1-adamantanol in the polar fraction of both weathered diesel samples (3.6 and 0.3 μg/L at the two sites) suggested that at least some of the associated polar components are from a petroleum source. The analysis of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) is aimed at measuring only dissolved carbon and hydrogen-containing compounds, and dissolved polar compounds present as a UCM are often assumed to be from natural organic matter (NOM) and removed. This may result in a gross underestimation of the total soluble organic material in water associated with weathered diesels. In addition, the risk posed by these fuel-derived polar compounds is unknown.

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