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, 38 (12), 3254-62

Fertilizer Characterization: Isotopic Data (N, S, O, C, and Sr)


Fertilizer Characterization: Isotopic Data (N, S, O, C, and Sr)

Laura Vitòria et al. Environ Sci Technol.


A detailed isotopic characterization (delta15N(Ntotal), delta15N(NO3), delta18O(NO3), delta34S(SO4), delta18O(SO4), (delta13C(Ctotal), and 87Sr/86Sr) of 27 commercial fertilizers used in Spain is presented in this paper. Results together with a compilation of fertilizer isotopic published data are used for two purposes: (i) to identify the origin of the primary constituents and raw materials used in fertilizer manufacture and relate these data with their heavy metals and rare earth elements (REE) contents; (ii) to compare the fertilizer isotopic signatures with natural values and other anthropogenic pollutants and evaluate the usefulness of multi-isotopic analyses to trace fertilizer contaminations in future study cases. Isotope data permit us to know, in most cases, the origin of the primary constituents of fertilizers, and the 87Sr/86Sr ratio distinguishes the origin of the phosphate content--phosphorites or carbonatites--which in turn implies a qualitatively defined and potentially contaminant presence of REE and heavy metals in fertilizers. Delta15N, delta34S, and 87Sr/86Sr have already been used to trace fertilizer contaminations. Their utility can be improved by the coupled use of delta15N(NO3)-delta18O(NO3) and delta34S(SO4)-delta18O(SO4) to evaluate the fractionation processes that can affect contaminants. Moreover, multi-isotopic analyses, using heavy isotopes, allow us to see beyond the fractionation effects to the fertilizer stable isotope signatures and a better distinction from other anthropogenic contaminants.

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