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Evaluation of the potential of benchmarking to facilitate the measurement of chemical persistence in lakes

Zou, Hongyan, MacLeod, Matthew, McLachlan, Michael S.
Chemosphere 2014 v.95 pp. 301-309
analytical chemistry, experimental design, lakes, models, sediments, volatilization
The persistence of chemicals in the environment is rarely measured in the field due to a paucity of suitable methods. Here we explore the potential of chemical benchmarking to facilitate the measurement of persistence in lake systems using a multimedia chemical fate model. The model results show that persistence in a lake can be assessed by quantifying the ratio of test chemical and benchmark chemical at as few as two locations: the point of emission and the outlet of the lake. Appropriate selection of benchmark chemicals also allows pseudo-first-order rate constants for physical removal processes such as volatilization and sediment burial to be quantified. We use the model to explore how the maximum persistence that can be measured in a particular lake depends on the partitioning properties of the test chemical of interest and the characteristics of the lake. Our model experiments demonstrate that combining benchmarking techniques with good experimental design and sensitive environmental analytical chemistry may open new opportunities for quantifying chemical persistence, particularly for relatively slowly degradable chemicals for which current methods do not perform well.