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bitumen-derived organics, mixture fractionation, effects-directed analysis, ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry, synchronous fluorescence spectroscopy, oil sands process-affected water


The surface mining of oil sands north of Fort McMurray, Alberta produces considerable tailings waste that is stored in large tailings ponds on industrial lease sites. Viable strategies for the detoxification of oil sands process affected water (OSPW) are under investigation. In order to assess the toxic potential of the suite of dissolved organics in OSPW, a method for their extraction and fractionation was developed using solid phase extraction. The method successfully isolated organic compounds from 180 L of an aged OSPW source. Using acidic- or alkaline-conditioned non-polar ENV+ resin and soxhlet extraction with ethyl acetate and methanol, three fractions (F1–F3) were generated. Chemical characterization of the generated fractions included infusion to electrospray ionization ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry (ESI-UHRMS), liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry, gas chromatography triple quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry, and synchronous fluorescence spectroscopy (SFS). Additionally, ESI-UHRMS class distribution data and SFS identified an increased degree of oxygenation and aromaticity, associated with increased polarity. Method validation, which included method and matrix spikes with surrogate and labelled organic mono carboxylic acid standards, confirmed separation according to acidity and polarity with generally good recoveries (average 76%). Because this method is capable of extracting large sample volumes, it is amenable to thorough chemical characterization and toxicological assessments with a suite of bioassays. As such, this protocol will facilitate effects-directed analysis of toxic components within bitumen-influenced waters from a variety of sources.


Faculty of Applied Science &Technology (FAST)


The Science of the Total Environment



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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Original Publication Citation

Bauer, A. E., Frank, R. A., Headley, J. V., Milestone, C. B., Batchelor, S., Peru, K. M., . . . Hewitt, L. M. (2019). A preparative method for the isolation and fractionation of dissolved organic acids from bitumen-influenced waters. The Science of the Total Environment, 671, 587-597. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.03.244


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