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Running waters in anthropogenically affected areas are susceptible to nitrate contamination. Source identification is a fundamental step for the development of effective remediation. Previous studies pointed to pollution by nitrogen-bearing contaminants in the Arno Basin. In this paper, eleven surface water samples have been analysed for main and trace components and 15N/14N and 18O/16O ratios, with the aim of identifying for the first time the origin of nitrate in the Arno River Basin so that further investigations can appropriately be designed. ?? 18O(NO3) and ??15N(NO3) values have allowed to hypothesise the main sources of nitrate, as follows: i) mineralized fertilizer, ii) soil-organic nitrogen, iii) manure and septic waste. The anomalously high ??15N and ??18O values in the Chiana (??15N=24.9??? and ??18O= 15.5???) and Usciana tributaries (??15N=30.1??? and ??18O=7.2???) show a low probability of belonging to the same population as that of the other samples and can be related to denitrification process of nitrate from animal waste/sewage and/or an industrial process (e.g. tanneries).
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Sources of nitrate in the Arno River waters: Constraints from ?? 15N and ??18O