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Environ Sci Technol. 2001 May 15;35(10):1902-11.

Thiols in coastal waters of the western North Sea and English Channel.

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Oceanography laboratories, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZL, England.


Thiols were determined in coastal waters of the western North Sea and English Channel. Detection was carried out on-board ship on-line by flow-analysis with detection by cathodic stripping voltammetry and calibration with thiourea. The thiol concentrations ranged from 0.70 to 3.60 nM (thiourea equivalents) and were found to vary over a relatively short distance perpendicular to the coast. Low concentrations in the area of greatest estuarine input (the Humber-Wash area) indicated that the thiols did not originate from low-salinity waters. Instead, variations in the thiol concentration were found to parallel those of chlorophyll. This correlation was confirmed by depth profiles which showed a trend for the thiols similar to that of chlorophyll. The data demonstrates that thiols are more widespread than anticipated, and that marine phytoplankton is an important source of the thiols. In view of their known ability to bind with metals, these data indicate that the thiols could be an important candidate to act as such ligands in the marine system. The measurements gave no evidence for the presence of sulfide in these waters which means that it must be present at less than 20% of the detected thiol levels.

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