Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Piero R. Gardinali

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Jose R. Almirall

Third Advisor's Name

Kevin O’Shea

Fourth Advisor's Name

William T. Anderson

Fifth Advisor's Name

Jurian Hoogewerff


Laser ablation-ICP/MS, LC/MS/MS, Mass spectrometry, soils, sediments

Date of Defense



A comprehensive investigation of sensitive ecosystems in South Florida with the main goal of determining the identity, spatial distribution, and sources of both organic biocides and trace elements in different environmental compartments is reported. This study presents the development and validation of a fractionation and isolation method of twelve polar acidic herbicides commonly applied in the vicinity of the study areas, including e.g. 2,4-D, MCPA, dichlorprop, mecroprop, picloram in surface water. Solid phase extraction (SPE) was used to isolate the analytes from abiotic matrices containing large amounts of dissolved organic material. Atmospheric-pressure ionization (API) with electrospray ionization in negative mode (ESP-) in a Quadrupole Ion Trap mass spectrometer was used to perform the characterization of the herbicides of interest. The application of Laser Ablation-ICP-MS methodology in the analysis of soils and sediments is reported in this study. The analytical performance of the method was evaluated on certified standards and real soil and sediment samples. Residential soils were analyzed to evaluate feasibility of using the powerful technique as a routine and rapid method to monitor potential contaminated sites. Forty eight sediments were also collected from semi pristine areas in South Florida to conduct screening of baseline levels of bioavailable elements in support of risk evaluation. The LA-ICP-MS data were used to perform a statistical evaluation of the elemental composition as a tool for environmental forensics. A LA-ICP-MS protocol was also developed and optimized for the elemental analysis of a wide range of elements in polymeric filters containing atmospheric dust. A quantitative strategy based on internal and external standards allowed for a rapid determination of airborne trace elements in filters containing both contemporary African dust and local dust emissions. These distributions were used to qualitative and quantitative assess differences of composition and to establish provenance and fluxes to protected regional ecosystems such as coral reefs and national parks.





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