The isotopic composition of anthropogenic boron and its potential impact on the environment.
The present study investigates the isotopic composition of anthropogenic boron (B) and its potential affects on the environment. The isotopic ratios of B in synthetic products from the main ores in the world have been measured by negative thermal ionization mass spectrometry. The data show that the isotopic compositions of Na-borate products and washing powders overlap with those of natural Na-borate minerals. In contrast, the 11B/10B ratios of synthetic Ca-borate and Na/Ca borate products are significantly lower (by 15 permil) and overlap with those of the natural Ca-borate minerals. Consequently, the original isotopic signature of natural borate minerals is not modified during the manufacturing process of synthetic products. The B isotopic composition of domestic wastewater from Israel and Riverside, California suggests that B in sewage is derived from Na-borate components used in detergents. Since B, like other inorganic ions, is not removed during conventional sewage treatment, it accumulates in domestic wastewater. Although the B concentration in pristine groundwaters is generally low (<0.05 mg/L), contaminant sources (e.g., wastewater) are relatively enriched in B (0.5-1 mg/L). The isotopically distinguished signature of borate compounds is used to trace groundwater contamination.
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