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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Modeling MTBE and BTEX in lakes and reservoirs used for recreational boating.

It is generally recognized that the bulk of fuel-related volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in lakes and reservoirs come from motorized recreational boating, but a quantitative connection between the two has been difficult to establish. A detailed boating use survey was conducted at a Northern California multiple-use lake, and the results were used to quantify daily methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) and benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) loading from recreational boating. A one-dimensional, process-based numerical model was used to predict VOC levels as a function of the number, type, and activity of marine engines using the lake, the vertical mixing dynamics of the lake, and the volatilization rates of the individual VOCs. The model was validated on two other reservoirs to establish its applicability under a range of climatic and boating conditions. The study further confirmed the link between motorized boating and surface-water VOC contamination. In addition, the results of this study suggest that volatilization alone is inadequate to describe the loss of volatile hydrocarbons from surface waters and that some combination of additional degradation processes is involved. Under low wind conditions, these degradation processes dominate the removal of MTBE. For toluene, these processes are always more dominant than volatilization. The mean relative percent difference (RPD) between measured and simulated VOC concentrations at the study site, accounting only for volatilization losses, was 50.6% for MTBE and 113% for toluene. A first-order submodel was implemented to account for losses other than volatilization, using decay coefficients estimated from the literature. The resulting mean RPDs between measured and modeled concentrations were 14.2% for MTBE and 4.5% for toluene.[1]


  1. Modeling MTBE and BTEX in lakes and reservoirs used for recreational boating. Heald, P.C., Schladow, S.G., Reuter, J.E., Allen, B.C. Environ. Sci. Technol. (2005) [Pubmed]
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