Identifying the source of contamination is a constant and often extremely difficult issue. especially in groundwater contamination and vapor intrusion claims where the source can be pretty remote from the contamination. However, a recent court decision has upheld the use of “isotope analysis” in the determination of source. Somewhat like DNA analysis, isotope analysis is the comparison of certain molecular structures between two samples of the same material in order to determine the likelihood that they originated from the same source. The 9th Circuit, in City of Pomona v. SQM North America Corporation, issued 5/2/14, held that perchlorate isotope analysis meets theDaubert standard for admissibility. This example is just one of a growing number of isotope analysis techniques being employed to reduce uncertainty and answer questions that otherwise would be extremely difficult and costly to address.
Isotope Analysis can be an extremely effective and efficient method for identifying origin, especially with common contaminants.
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