A gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric and stable carbon isotope ratio study of organic pollution in Clear Lake and its tributaries



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Water samples were collected from Clear Lake and three of its major tributaries and subjected to solvent extraction. The volatile organic compounds were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and as many as possible were identified and traced to their source tributary. The samples were also analyzed for dissolved and particulate organic carbon and further characterized by stable carbon isotope ratio mass spectrometry. The results of these analyses indicate that Clear Lake and its tributaries contain substantial amounts of pollutant organic carbon, and that the major portion of this carbon is petrochemical or petroleum in nature. The data also indicates that both gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and combined dissolved/particulate organic carbon and stable carbon isotope ratio mass spectrometry are not only effective in evaluating types and amounts of organic pollutants, but are also effective in tracing them to their source tributary.