Petroleum Pollutants in Surface and Groundwater as Indicated by the Carbon-14 Activity of Dissolved Organic Carbon

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Science  10 Jan 1975:
Vol. 187, Issue 4171, pp. 61-64
DOI: 10.1126/science.187.4171.61


The 14C activity of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) can be used to distinguish between the fossil organic carbon due to petrochemical effluents and modern organic carbon due to domestic wastes and natural decaying organic matter. Rivers polluted by petrochemical effluents show varying amounts of depression of the DOC 14C activity, reflecting concentrations of 14C-deficient fossil carbon of as much as about 40 percent of the total DOC.