US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Water Air Soil Pollut (2011) 217:431–443; DOI 10.1007/s11270-010-0598-3


Surface water samples were collected in 2006 from a lead mine–mill complex in Missouri to investigate possible organic compounds coming from the milling process. Water samples contained relatively high concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC; greater than 20 mg/l) for surface waters but were colorless, implying a lack of naturally occurring aquatic humic or fulvic acids. Samples were extracted by three different types of solid-phase extraction and analyzed by electrospray ionization/mass spectrometry. Because large amounts of xanthate complexation reagents are used in the milling process, techniques were developed to extract and analyze for sodium isopropyl xanthate and sodium ethyl xanthate. Although these xanthate reagents were not found, trace amounts of the degradates, isopropyl xanthyl thiosulfonate and isopropyl xanthyl sulfonate, were found in most locations sampled, including the tailings pond downstream. Dioctyl sulfosuccinate, a surfactant and process filtering aid, was found at concentrations estimated at 350 μg/l at one mill outlet, but not downstream. Release of these organic compounds downstream from lead–zinc mine and milling areas has not previously been reported. A majority of the DOC remains unidentified.