Profiling of dissolved organic compounds in the oil sands region using complimentary liquid–liquid extraction and ultrahigh resolution Fourier transform mass spectrometry

Yi Yi, Jun Han, S. Jean Birks, Christoph H. Borchers, John J. Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding and characterizing organics in aquatic environments is a great challenge for environmental monitoring, especially for the oil sands industry due to the complexity and potential toxicity of dissolved organics in water. To date, significant efforts have been made in investigating the toxicity of naphthenic acids, although other compounds may also contribute to the toxicity of oil sands process-affected water (OSPW). Here, we present a case study showing a systematic approach for profiling the organic composition of OSPW and environmental water samples by concentrating and separating dissolved organics through complementary liquid–liquid extractions followed by positive- or negative-ion mode ultrahigh resolution mass detection. Our comparative investigation shows clear differences in the composition of dissolved organics (homologues particularly) not only between OSPW samples and environmental water samples, but also differences among oil sands operators. Sulfur-containing compounds (especially the SOnclasses) appear to have great potential to be used for evaluating the impact of OSPW, while our understanding of oxygen-only containing compounds should not be limited to O2 (i.e., classic naphthenic acids), but rather can be broadened to include many other compound classes (for instance On, n = 1–9). Systematic profiling of water samples should be more widely implemented for monitoring the origin and transport of organics in aquatic ecosystems of the oil sands development region, northeastern Alberta, Canada.

Original languageEnglish
Article number828
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Volume76
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alberta
  • Environmental forensics
  • Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FTICR-MS)
  • Oil sands

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