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Concept: Natural organic matter


The time-evolutions of nanoparticle hydrodynamic radius and aggregate fractal dimension during the aggregation of fullerene (C(60)) nanoparticles (FNPs) were measured via simultaneous multiangle static and dynamic light scattering. The FNP aggregation behavior was determined as a function of monovalent (NaCl) and divalent (CaCl(2)) electrolyte concentration, and the impact of addition of dissolved natural organic matter (humic acid) to the solution was also investigated. In the absence of humic acid, the fractal dimension decreased over time with monovalent and divalent salts, suggesting that aggregates become slightly more open and less compact as they grow. Although the aggregates become slightly more open, the magnitude of the fractal dimension suggests intermediate aggregation between the diffusion- and reaction-limited regimes. We observed different aggregation behavior with monovalent and divalent salts upon the addition of humic acid to the solution. For NaCl-induced aggregation, the introduction of humic acid significantly suppressed the aggregation rate of FNPs at NaCl concentrations lower than 150mM. In this case, the aggregation was intermediate or reaction-limited even at NaCl concentrations as high as 500mM, giving rise to aggregates with a fractal dimension of 2.0. For CaCl(2)-induced aggregation, the introduction of humic acid enhanced the aggregation of FNPs at CaCl(2) concentrations greater than about 5mM due to calcium complexation and bridging effects. Humic acid also had an impact on the FNP aggregate structure in the presence of CaCl(2), resulting in a fractal dimension of 1.6 for the diffusion-limited aggregation regime. Our results with CaCl(2) indicate that in the presence of humic acid, FNP aggregates have a more open and loose structure than in the absence of humic acid. The aggregation results presented in this paper have important implications for the transport, chemical reactivity, and toxicity of engineered nanoparticles in aquatic environments.

Concepts: Aggregate data, Light scattering, Fractal, Humus, Natural organic matter, Aggregate, Soil, Chemistry


The significance of natural organic matter (NOM, both humic acid and alginate) on the transport and deposition kinetics of ZnO nanoparticles (NPs) in irregular quartz sand was examined by direct comparison of both breakthrough curves and retained profiles with NOM present in NPs suspension versus those obtained without NOM. Packed column experiments were conducted in both NaCl and CaCl(2) solutions under a series of environmentally relevant ionic strengths. Under all examined conditions, breakthrough plateaus with NOM even at concentration as low as 1 mg L(-1) of total organic carbon (TOC) were higher than those without NOM, indicating that presence of NOM in NPs suspensions enhanced ZnO NPs transport. Although hyper-exponential retained profiles were observed both in the presence and absence of NOM, the amount of retained ZnO NPs acquired in the presence of NOM decreased slowly as the transport distance increased. Straining induced by concurrent aggregation is found to cause the hyper-exponential decrease. In the presence of NOM, electrosteric interaction effectively reduced the ZnO NPs deposition on collector surfaces and NPs-NPs aggregation. Subsequently, the amount of NPs that jammed in the column inlet in the absence of NOM were markedly decreased, which therefore exhibited as flatter retained profiles.

Concepts: Organic chemistry, Natural organic matter, Organic matter, Zinc, Humus, Total organic carbon, Humic acid, Soil


This study investigated the effects of corrosion products of copper, a metal commonly employed in household plumbing systems, on N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) formation from a known NDMA precursor, dimethylamine (DMA). Copper-catalyzed NDMA formation increased with increasing copper concentrations, DMA concentrations, alkalinity and hardness, but decreased with increasing natural organic matter (NOM) concentration. pH influenced the speciation of chloramine and the interactions of copper with DMA. The transformation of monochloramine (NH2Cl) to dichloramine and complexation of copper with DMA were involved in elevating the formation of NDMA by copper at pH 7.0. The inhibiting effect of NOM on copper catalysis was attributed to the rapid consumption of NH2Cl by NOM and/or the competitive complexation of NOM with copper to limit the formation of DMA-copper complexes. Hardness ions, as represented by Ca(2+), also competed with copper for binding sites on NOM, thereby weakening the inhibitory effect of NOM on NDMA formation. Common copper corrosion products also participated in these reactions but in different ways. Aqueous copper released from malachite [Cu2CO3(OH)2] was shown to promote NDMA formation while NDMA formation decreased in the presence of CuO, most likely due to the adsorption of DMA.

Concepts: Copper, Dichloramine, Organic matter, Natural organic matter, Concentration, Chemistry, Nitrogen trichloride, Chloramine


Exposure experiments were conducted to evaluate the influence of dissolved organic matter (DOM) on the toxicity of ZnO-NPs (10-30 nm) and dissolved Zn at sub-lethal doses (50 and 5 ppm, respectively) to zebrafish (Danio rerio). Humic acid, alginic acid, bovine serum albumin and various natural DOM isolated from rivers as the Milwaukee River-WI (NOMW), Yukon River-AK (NOMA) and Suwannee River-GA DOM (NOMS) were used to represent humic substances (HA), carbohydrates (CHO), proteins (PTN), and natural organic matter (NOM), respectively. Initial experiments were carried out to confirm the toxic effect of ZnO-NPs at 50 ppm, followed by mitigation experiments with different types and concentrations of DOM (0.4-40 mg-C/L). Compared to 0% hatch of 50 ppm ZnO-NPs exposed embryos at 72 h post fertilization (hpf), NOMS, NOMW and HA had the best mitigative effects on hatching (53-65%), followed by NOMA, CHO and PTN (19-35%); demonstrating that the mitigation effects on ZnO-NPs toxicity were related to DOM’s quantity and composition. At 96 hpf, 20% of embryos exposed to 50 ppm ZnO-NPs hatched, 100% of embryos reared in embryo medium hatched, and close to 100% of the embryos hatched upon mitigation, except for those mitigated with PTN which had less effect. Dissolved Zn (5 ppm) also exhibited the same toxicity on embryos as ZnO-NPs (50 ppm). However, in the presence of HA, NOM and CHO, the hatching rates at 72 and 96 hpf increased significantly compared to 5% hatch without DOM. The overall mitigation effects produced by DOM followed the order of HA ≥ NOMS > NOM (A&W) > CHO > PTN, although specific mitigation effects varied with DOM concentration and functionalities. Our results also indicate that the toxicity of ZnO-NPs to embryos was mostly derived from NPs although dissolved Zn released from ZnO-NPs also interacted with embryos, affecting hatching, but to a less extent.

Concepts: Natural organic matter, Organic matter, Hatch, Humic acid, Zinc, Serum albumin, Humus, Soil


Although the kinetics and transformation of methyl parathion have been investigated extensively, its abiotic degradation mechanism in anoxic sulfur-containing groundwater system is still not clear. In this work, the abiotic degradation of methyl parathion in anoxic sulfur-containing system mediated by natural organic matter (NOM) was investigated in batch experiments. It was found that the removal of methyl parathion (up to 80.7%) was greatly improved in sulfide containing NOM compared to those in sulfide alone (with 15.5%) and in NOM alone (almost negligible). Various sulfur species presented significant differences in behaviors methyl parathion degradation, but followed by the pseudo-first-order model well. No facilitated degradation of methyl parathion was observed in sulfite (SO3(2-)) or thiosulfate (S2O3(2-)) containing NOM such as anthraquinone. Although elemental sulfur (S(0)) and cysteine could further improve the degradation rate of methyl parahtion, their impacts was very limited. The removal efficiency of methyl parathion in anoxic sulfur-containing system were related remarkably with NOM concentration and solution pH. Based on the transformation products identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometer (GC/MS) and liquid chromatography high resolution mass spectrometer (LC/HRMS), both the nitro group reduction and hydrolysis (SN@C) processes by sulfide (HS(-)) were further proved to be two predominant reaction mechanisms for the abiotic degradation of methyl parathion in anoxic sulfur-containing system. The results of this study help to understand the natural attenuation of methyl parathion under anoxic sulfide-containing groundwater system mediated by NOM.

Concepts: Insecticide, Organic chemistry, Natural organic matter, Nitro compound, Organic matter, Soil, Chemistry, Sulfur


Natural organic matter (NOM) is the main precursor of disinfection by-products (DBPs) formed during drinking water treatment processes. Previous studies of the relationships between DBP formation and NOM fractionation have mainly been focused on currently regulated DBPs and a few certain emerging DBPs. In this work, the Suwannee River NOM solution was fractionated into groups with different hydrophobicities using DAX-8 resins, and volatile and semi-volatile DBPs formed during the chlorination, chloramination and ozonation of the NOM fractions were examined by a nontargeted screening of comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography-quadrupole mass spectrometry procedure. The results showed that a total of 302 DBPs representing nine chemical classes were detected, of which 266 were possibly newly detected, based on library searching with NIST 08 library (using similarity and reverse values of at least 600 and 700, respectively) and linear retention indices. The characterization of DBP precursors suggests that hydrophobic (HPO) NOM contains the major fraction of precursor for the formation of nitrogenous DBPs (contributing about 60% of the total nitrogenous DBPs) during all three disinfection processes. Much larger amounts of heterocyclic DBPs were formed from the HPO fraction than from the hydrophilic fraction during chlorination. During chloramination and ozonation, 5-15 times more ketones were formed from the hydrophilic fraction than from the HPO fraction. During ozonation, more than twice the amounts of esters and alcohols were formed from the hydrophilic fraction than from the HPO fraction. Three-dimensional excitation-emission matrix spectra suggest that similar to the formation of regulated DBPs, humic acid-like substances are probably the precursors of halogen-containing DBPs. Relatively higher nitrogenous DBPs formation from the HPO fraction might be because of the existence of protein-like materials.

Concepts: Organic chemistry, Fractionation, Fraction, Water purification, Natural organic matter, Organic matter, Soil, Water treatment


The cost-effective and energy-efficient removal of organic micropollutants (MPs) from water and wastewater is challenging. The objective of this research was to evaluate the performance of porous β-cyclodextrin polymers (P-CDP) as adsorbents of MPs in aquatic matrices. Adsorption kinetics and MP removal were measured in batch and flow-through experiments for a mixture of 83 MPs at environmentally relevant concentrations (1 µg L(-1)) and across gradients of pH, ionic strength, and natural organic matter (NOM) concentrations. Performance was benchmarked against a coconut-shell activated carbon (CCAC). Data reveal pseudo-second order rate constants for most MPs ranging between 1.5 and 40 g mg(-1) min(-1) for CCAC and 30 and 40000 g mg(-1) min(-1) for P-CDP. The extent of MP removal demonstrates slower but more uniform uptake on CCAC, and faster but more selective uptake on P-CDP. Increasing ionic strength and the presence of NOM had a negative effect on the adsorption of MPs to CCAC, but had almost no effect on adsorption of MPs to P-CDP. P-CDP performed particularly well for positively charged MPs and neutral or negatively charged MPs with McGowan volumes greater than 1.7 (cm(3) mol(-1))/100. These data highlight advantages of P-CDP adsorbents relevant to MP removal during water and wastewater treatment.

Concepts: Water, Sewage treatment, Natural organic matter, Organic matter, Atom, Electric charge, Adsorption, Activated carbon


Soil organic matter (SOM) supports the Earth’s ability to sustain terrestrial ecosystems, provide food and fiber, and retains the largest pool of actively cycling carbon. Over 75% of the soil organic carbon (SOC) in the top meter of soil is directly affected by human land use. Large land areas have lost SOC as a result of land use practices, yet there are compensatory opportunities to enhance productivity and SOC storage in degraded lands through improved management practices. Large areas with and without intentional management are also being subjected to rapid changes in climate, making many SOC stocks vulnerable to losses by decomposition or disturbance. In order to quantify potential SOC losses or sequestration at field, regional, and global scales, measurements for detecting changes in SOC are needed. Such measurements and soil-management best practices should be based on well established and emerging scientific understanding of processes of C stabilization and destabilization over various timescales, soil types, and spatial scales. As newly engaged members of the International Soil Carbon Network, we have identified gaps in data, modeling, and communication that underscore the need for an open, shared network to frame and guide the study of SOM and SOC and their management for sustained production and climate regulation.

Concepts: Carbon, Land management, Organic matter, Earth, Ecosystem, Natural organic matter, Humus, Soil


Chlorine/chloramine residuals are maintained in drinking water distribution systems to prevent microbial contamination and microorganism regrowth. During household cooking processes (e.g., soup making), the residual chlorine/chloramines in tap water may react with the iodide in iodized table salt to form hypoiodous acid, which could react with remaining natural organic matter in tap water and organic matter in food to generate iodinated disinfection byproducts (I-DBPs). However, I-DBPs formed during cooking with chloraminated/chlorinated tap water are almost completely new to researchers. In this work, by adopting precursor ion scan of m/z 127 using ultra performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization-triple quadrupole mass spectrometry, many new polar I-DBPs formed during cooking with chloraminated/chlorinated tap water were detected and proposed with structures, of which 3-iodo-4-hydroxybenzaldehyde, 3-iodo-4-hydroxybenzoic acid, 3-iodo-4-hydroxy-5-methylbenzoic acid, diiodoacetic acid, 3,5-diiodo-4-hydroxybenzaldehyde, 3,5-diiodo-4-hydroxybenzoic acid, 2,6-diiodo-4-nitrophenol, 2,4-diiodo-6-nitrophenol, and 2,4,6-triiodophenol were confirmed with standard compounds. With the aid of ultra fast liquid chromatography/ion trap-time of flight-mass spectrometry, molecular formula identification of five new I-DBPs (C8H5O4I, C7H4NO4I, C8H5O5I, C7H4NO5I, and C8H6O3I2) was achieved. A developmental toxicity with a recently developed sensitive bioassay was conducted for the newly identified I-DBPs, suggesting that phenolic I-DBPs (except for iodinated carboxyphenols) were about 50-200 times more developmentally toxic than aliphatic I-DBPs. The major I-DBPs in a baseline simulated cooking water sample were determined to be from 0.72 to 7.63 μg/L. Polar I-DBPs formed under various disinfection and cooking conditions were compared, and suggestions for controlling their formation were provided.

Concepts: Microorganism, Quadrupole mass analyzer, Natural organic matter, Organic matter, Organic chemistry, Salt, Mass spectrometry, Water


Atrazine (ATZ) is one of the most common pesticides detected in surface water in Quebec (Canada). The present study was mainly focused on the degradation of ATZ and its by-products using electrochemical advanced oxidation processes such as photo-electro-Fenton (PEF), electro-Fenton (EF) and anodic-oxidation with simultaneous H2O2 formation (AO - H2O2). The comparison of these processes showed that PEF process was found to be the most effective process in removing ATZ and its by-products from both synthetic solution (ATZ0 = 100 μg L(-1)) and real agricultural surface water enriched with ATZ (ATZ0 = 10 μg L(-1)). Different operating parameters, including wavelength of the light, pH, current density and the presence of natural organic matter (humic acids) were investigated for PEF process using boron-doped diamond (BDD) anode and graphite cathode. The current density and the wavelength of the light were the most important parameters in the ATZ degradation efficiency. The best operating conditions were recorded for the synthetic samples at a current density of 18.2 mA cm(-2), a pH of 3.0 and treatment time of 45 min. Results showed that atrazine-desethyl-desisopropyl (DEDIA) was the most important by-product recorded. More than 99% of ATZ oxidation was recorded after 15 min of treatment and all the concentrations of major by-products were less than the limit of detection after 45 min of treatment. The PEF process was also tested for real surface water contaminated by ATZ: i) with and without addition of iron; ii) without pH adjustment (pH ∼ 6.7) and with pH adjustment (pH ∼ 3.1). In spite of the presence of radical scavenger and iron complexation the PEF process was more effective to remove ATZ from real surface water when the pH value was adjusted near to 3.0. The ATZ removal was 96.0% with 0.01 mM of iron (kapp = 0.13 min(-1)) and 100% with 0.1 mM of iron (kapp = 0.17 min(-1)).

Concepts: Natural organic matter, Soil, Water, Redox, Electrolysis, Electrochemistry, Acid, Carbon dioxide