Trace Analysis of Surfactants in Corexit Oil Dispersant Formulations and Seawater Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/defaults/z029p543p

This is an author's peer-reviewed final manuscript, as accepted by the publisher. The article is in press and will be published in Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography.

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  • After the April 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, and subsequent release of millions of barrels of oil, two Corexit oil dispersant formulations were used in unprecedented quantities both on the surface and sub-surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Although the dispersant formulations contain four classes of surfactants, current studies to date focus on the anionic surfactant, bis-(2-ethylhexyl) sulfosuccinate (DOSS). Factors affecting the integrity of environmental and laboratory samples for Corexit analysis have not been systematically investigated. For this reason, a quantitative analytical method was developed for the detection of all four classes of surfactants, as well as the hydrolysis products of DOSS, the enantiomeric mixture of α- and β-ethylhexyl sulfosuccinate (α-/β-EHSS). The analytical method was then used to evaluate which practices for sample collection, storage, and analysis resulted in high quality data. Large volume, direct injection of seawater followed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) minimized analytical artifacts, analysis time, and both chemical and solid waste. Concentrations of DOSS in the seawater samples ranged from 71–13,000 ng/L, while the nonionic surfactants including Span 80, Tween 80, Tween 85 were detected infrequently (26% of samples) at concentrations from 840–9100 ng/L. The enantiomers α-/β-EHSS were detected in seawater, at concentrations from 200–1,900 ng/L, and in both Corexit dispersant formulations, indicating α-/β-EHSS were applied to the oil spill and may be not unambiguous indicator of DOSS degradation. Best practices are provided to ensure sample integrity and data quality for environmental monitoring studies and laboratory that require the detection and quantification of Corexit-based surfactants in seawater.
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