Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Chemistry & Biochemistry



Committee Director

Robert F. Dias

Committee Member

Elizabeth C. Minor

Committee Member

Kenneth Mopper

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.C45 M55 2002


Used for making a variety of plastic products, styrene monomer is an aromatic hydrocarbon frequently shipped in bulk quantities through the Port of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Despite its common use around the world and its high aquatic toxicity, little research has been conducted on the chemical's aqueous solubility and reactions during a major spill. In this study, the solubility of styrene monomer was measured in artificial seawater and natural waters collected from four sites on the lower Chesapeake Bay and Elizabeth River. The samples represented a range of different water chemistries in terms of salinity (13.8 — 29.0%) and the character and quantity (1.7 — 9.9 mg L -1) of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Significant differences in styrene solubility were observed under different temperature and salinity conditions in both artificial and natural seawater samples. Styrene solubility dropped almost 35% from a mean concentration of 250.3 mg kg 'n deionized water equilibrated at 26'C to 163.4 mg kg -1 in 35.0% artificial seawater equilibrated at approximately 6'C. Styrene solubilities in the natural samples were lower than the solubilities of the artificial samples and varied through the progression of seasons from spring to winter. In the natural waters, styrene solubility generally decreased in spring and winter and increased in the summer and fall. The decreased solubilities in the natural water are attributed to the changing quantities and qualities of dissolved organic carbon at the different sample sites over the course of the study. A seasonal cyclic trend was observed in plots of styrene solubility versus salinity and styrene solubility versus DOC. The results from this study indicate that several variables in natural aquatic systems such as salinity, temperature, and DOC significantly affect styrene solubility. The variability of styrene solubility in the natural water samples indicates a need for characterization of the DOC to determine what functional groups may be involved. Ultimately, these findings and their implications will aid in constructing better solubility, sorption„ and toxicity models for nonpolar organic compounds.


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