Isotopic Tracing of Perchlorate in the Environment

  • Neil C. SturchioEmail author
  • John Karl Böhlke
  • Baohua Gu
  • Paul B. Hatzinger
  • W. Andrew Jackson
Part of the Advances in Isotope Geochemistry book series (ADISOTOPE)


Isotopic measurements can be used for tracing the sources and behavior of environmental contaminants. Perchlorate (ClO4) has been detected widely in groundwater, soils, fertilizers, plants, milk, and human urine since 1997, when improved analytical methods for analyzing ClO4 concentration became available for routine use. Perchlorate ingestion poses a risk to human health because of its interference with thyroidal hormone production. Consequently, methods for isotopic analysis of ClO4 have been developed and applied to assist evaluation of the origin and migration of this common contaminant. Isotopic data are now available for stable isotopes of oxygen and chlorine, as well as 36Cl isotopic abundances, in ClO4 samples from a variety of natural and synthetic sources. These isotopic data provide a basis for distinguishing sources of ClO4 found in the environment, and for understanding the origin of natural ClO4. In addition, the isotope effects of microbial ClO4 reduction have been measured in laboratory and field experiments, providing a tool for assessing ClO4 attenuation in the environment. Isotopic data have been used successfully in some areas for identifying major sources of ClO4 contamination in drinking water supplies. Questions about the origin and global biogeochemical cycle of natural ClO4 remain to be addressed; such work would benefit from the development of methods for preparation and isotopic analysis of ClO4 in samples with low concentrations and complex matrices.


Isotopic Fractionation Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Stable Isotopic Composition Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Much of the work reviewed in this chapter was supported by contracts from the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program of the U.S. Department of Defense, and by the National Research Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. Use of product or trade names in this paper is for identification purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. government. We thank Hans Eggenkamp, Stephanie Ewing, Doug Kent, and an anonymous referee for constructive reviews of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil C. Sturchio
    • 1
    Email author
  • John Karl Böhlke
    • 2
  • Baohua Gu
    • 3
  • Paul B. Hatzinger
    • 4
  • W. Andrew Jackson
    • 5
  1. 1.University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyRestonUSA
  3. 3.Oak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  4. 4.Shaw Environmental, Inc.LawrencevilleUSA
  5. 5.Texas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

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