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[en] Stable carbon isotope analysis has the potential to be used for assessing the performance of in situ remediation of organic contaminants. Successful application of this isotope technique requires understanding the magnitude and variability in carbon isotope fractionation associated with the reactions under consideration. This study investigated the influence of inorganic anions (sulfate, bicarbonate, and chloride) on carbon isotope fractionation of trichloroethene (TCE) during its degradation by persulfate activated with zero-valent iron. The results demonstrated that the significant carbon isotope fractionation (enrichment factors ε ranging from − 3.4 ± 0.3 to − 4.3 ± 0.3 ‰) was independent on the zero-iron dosage, sulfate concentration, and bicarbonate concentration. However, the ε values (ranging from − 7.0 ± 0.4 to − 13.6 ± 1.2 ‰) were dependent on the chloride concentration, indicating that chloride could significantly affect carbon isotope fractionation during TCE degradation by persulfate activated with zero-valent iron. The dependence of ε values on chloride concentration, indicated that TCE degradation mechanisms may be different from the degradation mechanism caused by sulfate radical (SO_4·"−). Ignoring the effect of chloride on ε value may cause numerous uncertainties in quantitative assessment of the performance of the in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO). - Highlights: • Significant C isotope fractionation for TCE degradation by Fe"0 activated persulfate. • The enrichment factors was independent of Fe"0, SO_4"2"−, or HCO_3"− concentration. • Cl"− significantly influenced the carbon isotope fractionation.