Tracer testing is a mature technology used for characterizing aquatic flow systems. To gain more insights from tracer tests a combination of conservative (non-reactive) tracers together with at least one reactive tracer is commonly applied. The reactive tracers can provide unique information about physical, chemical, and/or biological properties of aquatic systems. Although, previous review papers provide a wide coverage on conservative tracer compounds there is no systematic review on reactive tracers yet, despite their extensive development during the past decades. This review paper summarizes the recent development in compounds and compound classes that are exploitable and/or have been used as reactive tracers, including their systematization based on the underlying process types to be investigated. Reactive tracers can generally be categorized into three groups: (1) partitioning tracers, (2) kinetic tracers, and (3) reactive tracers for partitioning. The work also highlights the potential for future research directions. The recent advances from the development of new tailor-made tracers might overcome existing limitations.
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