Contamination Source Tracking with Nitrates at Isobar Science

Nutrient pollution (contamination) is caused by excess quantities of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) within the environment from various sources, including agriculture and industrial/urban centers. Over a period of time, such contamination can be problematic due to accumulation within the soil, eventually reaching surface and groundwater systems in high concentrations. In order to manage excess nutrients, the source and pathways must be quantified. The origins can either be point source (single origin) or nonpoint source (multi-pathway origin) in nature and can vary depending on season, precipitation or other events.

The most effective way to identify nutrient contamination is through the analysis of nitrates (NO3) through the measurement of the stable isotopes of its components, oxygen (δ18O) and nitrogen (δ15N).

nitrogen isotopes plot

Nitrates Analysis is offered by Beta Analytic’s subsidiary laboratory, Isobar Science, for various water samples, including river, lake, marsh, ocean, groundwater and rain. In cases where the source regions of contaminants overlap in terms of their oxygen and nitrogen isotopic signatures – making it difficult to identify a single contamination source – enhanced source tracking via the addition of boron isotopes (δ11B) is offered.

Contact Isobar Science today to learn more!