Measuring the fate of naphthenic acids in wetlands using Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers and Solid-Phase Microextraction

Treatment wetlands have emerged as a potential treatment option for oil sands process-affected waters (OSPW) produced from bitumen extraction by the oil sands industry. Of particular interest is the removal of naphthenic acids (NAs), which are widely acknowledged as the primary constituents of toxicity in OSPW. Studies have demonstrated the capacity for NA removal in wetland environments; however, the specific mechanisms of removal for NAs in wetlands is not well understood. Experimental groups consisting of 1) OSPW, 2) OSPW with sterilized substrate, 3) OSPW with substrate (non-sterilized), or 4) OSPW with cattails in substrate will be used to determine the effects of natural attenuation, sorption, microbial degradation, and plant uptake, respectively. Concentrations of freely available NAs in OSPW will be measured in wetland microcosms using Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers. Changes in OSPW toxicity in the wetland microcosms will be evaluated from biomimetic extractions of NAs using solid phase microextraction fibres. The findings will be used to test and evaluate a plant uptake model for ionizable substances. This research will support further evaluation of treatment wetlands as a potential option for OSPW remediation and improve environmental and human health risk assessments of NAs.

Faculty Supervisor:

Frank Gobas


Alexander M Cancelli


Imperial Oil Ltd.


Environmental sciences



Simon Fraser University



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