Enhanced forensic discrimination of pollutants by position-specific isotope analysis using isotope ratio monitoring by C-13 nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry


  • Julien Maxime
  • Nun Pierrick
  • Höhener Patrick
  • Parinet Julien
  • Robins Richard J.
  • Remaud Gérald S.

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In forensic environmental investigations the main issue concerns the inference of the original source of the pollutant for determining the liable party. Isotope measurements in geochemistry, combined with complimentary techniques for contaminant identification, have contributed significantly to source determination at polluted sites. In this work we have determined the intramolecular C-13 profiles of several molecules well-known as pollutants. By giving additional analytical parameters, position-specific isotope analysis performed by isotope ratio monitoring by C-13 nuclear magnetic resonance (irm-C-13 NMR) spectrometry gives new information to help in answering the major question: what is the origin of the detected contaminant? We have shown that isotope profiling of the core of a molecule reveals both the raw materials and the process used in its manufacture. It also can reveal processes occurring between the contamination site `source' and the sampling site. Thus, irm-C-13 NMR is shown to be a very good complement to compound-specific isotope analysis currently performed by mass spectrometry for assessing polluted sites involving substantial spills of pollutant. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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