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Olivia Bojan

Masters Student
Colorado State University

Olivia Bojan is currently an Environmental Engineering masters student at Colorado State University. She graduated with a BS in chemistry from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on understanding the fate of polar hydrocarbons at groundwater-surface water interfaces and in sediments. She hopes to work as an environmental engineering consultant after graduate school.


New Insights into the Formation of Polar Transformation Products at an Oil-Contaminated Site by Ultrahigh Resolution FT-ICR Mass Spectrometry

As natural source zone depletion (NSZD) processes proceed, incomplete hydrocarbon oxidation processes generate polar transformation products (a.k.a. oxyhydrocarbons). The enhanced mobility and unknown toxicity of these polar metabolites have caused increasing concern among regulators. Current USEPA methods quantify only nonpolar total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), possibly misleading characterizations of plumes. Here, ultrahigh resolution Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) was used to compare zones with different redox and hydrogeologic properties at a former refinery. Molecular-level compositional changes revealed that surprisingly, the anoxic zone had a higher relative abundance of highly oxygenated compounds than the oxic zone sample. In addition, high-molecular weight compounds appeared to be depleted in the oxic sample. New insights from FT-ICR analysis suggest that hydrophilic transformation products formed in the high transmissivity of the oxic zone were mobilized and flushed away. Ongoing analyses will identify biomarker compounds detectable by commercially-available techniques to simplify monitoring efforts.

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