Occurrence, distribution and behavior of hydrophilic ethers in the aquatic environment

The objective of the present doctoral thesis was to investigate the occurrence, distribution, and behaviour of six hydrophilic ethers: ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE), 1,4-dioxane, ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (monoglyme
The objective of the present doctoral thesis was to investigate the occurrence, distribution, and behaviour of six hydrophilic ethers: ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE), 1,4-dioxane, ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (monoglyme), diethylene glycol dimethyl ether (diglyme), triethylene glycol dimethyl ether (triglyme), and tetraethylene glycol dimethyl ether (tetraglyme) in surface-, waste-, ground- and drinking water samples. Solid phase extraction and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry were used to analyze the six hydrophilic ethers. Altogether more than 150 surface water samples, almost 100 of each groundwater and wastewater samples, and 10 raw and drinking water samples were analyzed during the research project. 
Initially, the method was validated in order to simultaneously determine the analytes of interest in various aquatic environments. A solid phase extraction method that uses coconut charcoal (Resprep® activated coconut charcoal, Restek) or carbon molecular sieve material (SupelcleanTM Envi-CarbTM Plus, Supelco) for analyte absorption were found suitable for determination of ETBE, 1,4-dioxane, and glymes in surface-, drinking-, ground- and wastewater samples. Precision and accuracy of both methods was demonstrated for all analytes of interest. The recovery of target compounds from the ultrapure water spiked at 1.0 µg L−1 was between 86.8 % and 98.2 %, with relative standard deviation below 6 %. The samples spiked at 10.0 µg L−1 gave slightly higher recovery of 90.6 % to 112.2 % with a relative standard deviation below 3.4 % for each analyte. Detection and quantification limits in ultrapure water and surface waters were furthermore established. The limit of quantitation (LOQ) in ultrapure water ranged between 0.024 µg L−1 to 0.057 µg L−1 using Restek cartridges, and 0.030 µg L−1 to 0.069 µg L−1 using Supelco cartridges. In the surface water samples the calculated LOQ was 0.032 µg L−1 to 0.067µg L−1 using coconut charcoal material and 0.032 µg L−1 to 0.052 µg L−1 using the carbon molecular sieve material. Moreover, stability of the unpreserved and preserved water samples as well as the extracts was determined. Preservation of samples with sodium bisulfate (at 1 gram per Liter) resulted in much better stability of the ethers in water samples. Subsequently, 27 samples obtained from seven surface water bodies in Germany (Rivers Rhine, Lippe, Main, Oder, Rur, Schwarzbach and Wesel-Datteln Canal) were analyzed for the six hydrophilic ethers. ETBE was present in only two surface waters (Rhine River and Wesel-Datteln Canal) with concentrations close to the LOQ (up to 0.065 µg L−1). 1,4-Dioxane was detected in all of the water samples at concentrations reaching 1.93 µg L–1. Monoglyme was identified only in the Main and Rhine Rivers at the maximum concentration of 0.114 µg L–1 and 0.427 µg L–1, respectively. Very high concentrations (up to 1.73 µg L−1) of diglyme, triglyme, and tetraglyme were detected in the samples from the Oder River. These glymes were also detected in the Rhine River; however the concentrations did not exceed 0.200 µg L–1. Furthermore, tetraglyme was detected in the Main River at an average concentration of 0.409 µg L–1 (n = 6) and in one sample from the Rur River at 0.192 µg L–1.
Four sampling campaigns were conducted at the Oderbruch polder between October 2009 and May 2012, in order to study the behavior of the hydrophilic ethers and organophosphates during riverbank filtration and in the anoxic aquifer. Moreover the suitability of these target compounds was assessed for their use as groundwater organic tracers. At the time of each sampling campaign, concentrations of triglyme and tetraglyme in the Oder River were between 20–185 ng L–1 (n = 4) and 273¬–1576 ng L–1 (n = 4). Monoglyme, diglyme, and 1,4-dioxane were  analyzed only during the two last sampling campaigns. At that time, the concentration of diglyme in Oder River was 65¬–94 ng L-1 (n = 2) and 1,4-dioxane 1610¬–3290 ng L–1 (n = 2). In the drainage ditch, following bank filtration, concentrations of ethers ranged between 1090 ng L–1 and 1467 ng L–1 for 1,4-dioxane, 23¬ng L–1 and 41 ng L–1 for diglyme, 37 ng L–1 and 149 ng L–1 for triglyme, and 496 ng L–1  and 1403 ng L–1 for tetraglyme. In the anoxic aquifer, 1,4-dioxane showed the greatest persistence during the groundwater passage. At the distance of 1150 m from the river and an estimated groundwater age of 41.9 years, a concentration above 200 ng L−1 was detected. A positive correlation was found for the inorganic tracer chloride (Cl−) with 1,4-dioxane and tetraglyme. Similarities in the behavior of Cl− and the organic compound suggested that 1,4-dioxane and tetraglyme are controlled by the same hydraulic process and therefore can be used as additional tracers to study the dynamics of the groundwater system. These results show that high concentrations of ethers are present in the surface water and are not removed during bank filtration processes. Moreover, the hydrophilic ethers persist in the anoxic aquifer and little or no degradation is expected, supporting, their possible application as organic tracers.
A separate sampling project was conducted for 1,4-dioxane that focused primarily on its fate in the aquatic environment. This study provided missing information on the extent of water pollution with 1,4-dioxane is Germany. Numerous waste-, surface-, ground- and drinking water samples were collected in order to determine the persistence of 1,4-dioxane in the aquatic environment. The occurrence of 1,4-dioxane was determined in wastewater samples from four municipal sewage treatment plants (STP). The influent and effluent samples were collected during weekly campaigns. The average influent concentrations in all four plants ranged from 262 ± 32 ng L−1 to 834 ± 480 ng L−1, whereas the average effluents concentrations were between 267 ± 35 ng L−1 and 62,260 ± 36,000 ng L−1. The source of increased 1,4-dioxane concentrations in one of the effluents was identified to originate from impurities in the methanol used in the postanoxic denitrification process. Spatial and temporal distribution of 1,4-dioxane in the river Main, Rhine, and Oder was also examined. Concentrations reaching 2,200 ng L−1 in the Oder River, and 860 ng L−1 in both Main and Rhine River were detected. The average load during the sampling was estimated to be 6.5 kg d−1 in the Main, 34.1 kg d−1 in the Oder, and 134.5 kg d−1 in the Rhine River. In all of the sampled rivers, concentrations of 1,4-dioxane increased with distance from the mouth of the river and were found to negatively correlate with the discharge of the river. In order to determine if 1,4-dioxane can reach drinking water supplies, samples from a Rhine River bank filtration site and potable water from two drinking water production facilities were analyzed for the presence of 1,4-dioxane in the raw water and finished potable water. The raw water (following bank filtration) contained 650 ng L−1 to 670 ng L−1 of 1,4-dioxane, whereas the concentration in the finished drinking water fell only to 600 ng L−1 and 490 ng L−1, respectively. 
During the final project, investigations of the source identification of high glyme concentrations in the Oder River were carried out. During four sampling campaigns between January, 2012 and April, 2013, 50 samples from the Oder River in the Oderbruch region and Poland were collected. During the first two samplings in the Oderbruch polder, glymes were detected at concentration reaching 0.07 µg L-1 (diglyme), 0.54 µg L−1 (triglyme) and 1.73 µg L−1 (tetraglyme) in the Oder River. The extensive sampling campaign of the Oder River (about 500 km) in Poland helped to identify the area of possible glyme entry into the river. During that sampling the maximum concentrations of triglyme and tetraglyme were 0.46 µg L−1 and 2.21 µg L−1, respectively. A closer investigation of the identified area of pollution, helped to determine the possible sources of glymes in the Oder River. Hence, the final sampling focused on the Kaczawa River, a left tributary of the Oder River and Czarna Woda, a left tributary of Kaczawa River. Moreover, samples from an industrial wastewater treatment plant were collected. Samples from Czarna Woda stream and Kaczawa River contained even higher concentrations of diglyme, triglyme, and tetraglyme, reaching 5.18 µg L−1, 12.87 µg L−1 and 80.81 µg L−1, respectively. Finally, three water samples from a wastewater treatment plant receiving influents from a copper smelter were analyzed. Diglyme, triglyme, and tetraglyme were present at an average concentration of 569 µg L−1, 4300 µg L−1, and 65900 µg L−1, respectively in the wastewater.  Further research helped to identify the source of the glymes in the wastewater. The gas desulfurization process – Solinox implemented in the nearby copper smelter uses glymes as physical absorption medium for sulfur dioxide. 
Results of this doctoral research provide important information about the occurrence, distribution, and behavior of hydrophilic ethers: 1,4-dioxane, monoglyme, diglyme, triglyme, and tetraglyme in the aquatic environment. A method capable of analyzing a wide range of ether compounds: from a volatile ETBE to a high molecular weight tetraglyme was validated. 1,4-Dioxane and tetraglyme were found to be applicable as organic tracers, since they are not easily attenuated during bank filtration and the anoxic groundwater passage. The extent of water pollution with 1,4-dioxane was shown in waste-, surface-, ground-, and drinking waters. One source of extremely high concentrations of 1,4-dioxane in a municipal sewage treatment plant applying postanoxic denitrification was identified, however more information is needed on the entry of 1,4-dioxane into surface waters. Moreover, 1,4-dioxane was present in drinking water samples from river bank filtration, which demonstrates its persistence in the aquatic environment and its low degradation potential during bank filtration and subsequent water treatment. Furthermore, this was the first study that focused primarily on identifying sources of glymes in surface waters. Glymes find a widespread use in industrial sectors, hence establishing their origin in the surface water is difficult (as with 1,4-dioxane). In this work, a gas desulphurization process was identified to be a dominating source of glyme pollution in the Oder River.
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Author:Daria Katarzyna Demers-Stępień
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Wilhelm Püttmann, Ruprecht Schleyer, Christoph Schüth, Peter Cornel
Advisor:Wilhelm Püttmann
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Year of first Publication:2014
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2014/02/04
Release Date:2014/03/11
Tag:1,4-dioxane; Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry; Glyme; Solid Phase Extraction
HeBIS PPN:337706344
Dewey Decimal Classification:550 Geowissenschaften
Licence (German):License Logo Veröffentlichungsvertrag für Publikationen

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