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Dissolved organic matter (DOM) plays a crucial role in the photochemical transformation of organic contaminants in natural aquatic systems. The present study focuses on the characterization of a specific effect previously observed for electron-rich phenols, consisting in an acceleration of the DOM-photosensitized transformation of target compounds at low concentrations (< 1 µM). This effect was hypothesized to be caused by DOM-derived "long-lived" photooxidants (LLPO). Pseudo-first-order rate constants for the transformation of several phenols, anilines, sulfonamide antibiotics and phenylureas photosensitized by Suwannee River fulvic acid were determined under steady-state irradiation using the UVA and visible wavelengths from a medium-pressure mercury lamp. A significant enhancement (by a factor of 2.4 - 16) of the first-order transformation rate constant of various electron-rich target compounds was observed for an initial concentration of 0.1 μM compared to 5 μM . This effect points to a relevant reactivity of these compounds with LLPO. For phenols and anilines the enhancement effect occurred only above certain standard one-electron oxidation potentials. From these data series the standard one-electron reduction potential of LLPO was estimated to be in the range of 1.0 - 1.3 V versus the standard hydrogen electrode. LLPO are proposed to mainly consist of phenoxyl radicals formed by photooxidation of electron-poor phenolic moieties of the DOM. The plausibility of this hypothesis was successfully tested by studying the photosensitized transformation kinetics of 3,4-dimethoxyphenol in aqueous solutions containing a model photosensitizer (2-acetonaphthone) and a model electron-poor phenol (4-cyanophenol) as DOM surrogates. Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Stephanie C Remke, Urs von Gunten, Silvio Canonica. Enhanced transformation of aquatic organic compounds by long-lived photooxidants (LLPO) produced from dissolved organic matter. Water research. 2021 Feb 15;190:116707

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PMID: 33373945

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