Compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA) can be used to examine the source and transformation processes of organic pollutants in the environment. We performed a carbon stable isotope analysis of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners in the PCB heat-transfer medium (heat medium) and the original Kanechlor-400 (KC-400, a commercial brand of PCBs) involved in the Yusho incident. The main purpose is to investigate whether isotope fractionation occurred in the rice oil deodorization process that caused the incident. The carbon isotope ratios (δ13C values) of the targeted PCB congeners ranged from − 29.39 to − 27.00‰ in the heat medium and from − 28.77 to − 27.05‰ in the original KC-400. No significant differences were found in the δ13C values, suggesting carbon isotope fractionation did not occur for the targeted PCB congeners in the heat medium when deodorization of rice oil occurred at temperatures above 200 °C. Furthermore, we also conducted a congener-specific analysis of 64 PCB congeners found in the heat medium and rice oil contaminated by it. The total PCB congener concentrations were 503 mg/g in the heat medium and 81 μg/g in the rice oil. The concentrations of the highly chlorinated congeners were significantly lower in the heat medium than in the original KC-400, and the compositional ratios of the lowly chlorinated congeners were relatively lower in the rice oil than in the heat medium. These results suggest that the PCB congener patterns gradually changed from that of the original KC-400 in the deodorization process and subsequent contamination into the rice oil. Thus, a combination of CSIA and congener-specific analysis is a new approach for investigating the changing PCB congener profiles in samples from the Yusho incident.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis