Advancements in Fingerprinting Contaminants; Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA)

Written by Steve Henshaw, P.G., CEO, EnviroForensics

Keith Gaskill, L.P.G., Chief Geologist, EnviroForensics

As seen in the February 2011 issue of Cleaner & Launderer.

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Among the challenges in environmental consulting is determining responsible parties in comingled plumes.  With so much money and liability at stake, confident determination of contaminant sources (fingerprinting) becomes vital to not only our clients’ personal stake, but to the timely cleanup of potentially dangerous contaminant plumes. 

The first and most utilized fingerprinting method is basic compound analysis.  Generally, it is known what hazardous substances were released to the subsurface and what chemical compounds can be associated with that release.  Analysis is completed by comparing compounds detected.  For example, two drycleaners next to each other are located directly upgradient from a residence where one drycleaner has used Stoddard solvents and one has used perchloroethylene (perc) in the drycleaning process.  When laboratory analysis reveals the presence of petroleum compounds (perc contains no petroleum compounds whereas Stoddard solvent does) in groundwater under the residence, it is determined that the Stoddard solvent plant is likely the responsible party.   Continue reading “Advancements in Fingerprinting Contaminants; Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA)”