Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 214, Issue 1, pp 471–490

Fluorescence Analysis of Natural Organic Matter Fractionated by Ultrafiltration: Contrasting Between Urban-Impacted Water, and Radio-Contaminated Water from a Near-Pristine Site


DOI: 10.1007/s11270-010-0439-4

Cite this article as:
Caron, F. & Smith, D.S. Water Air Soil Pollut (2011) 214: 471. doi:10.1007/s11270-010-0439-4


Aqueous natural organic matter (NOM) impacted by two contrasting human impacts was analyzed using by multiresponse fluorescence, decoupled with the resolution routine PARAFAC. The first site is Chalk River, Ontario, Canada, near a pit formerly used to dispose low-level wastes. The second site is the Grand River in Cambridge, south-central Ontario, which is impacted by urban activities and agriculture. Our analysis included raw water, plus fractions from ultrafiltration and solid-phase extraction (SPE). The fluorescence spectra of the NOM, resolved with PARAFAC, showed three common features: humic-like components, at excitation/emission wavelengths 325–350/450–475 nm, fulvic-like components at 325/380–420 nm and protein-like components, at 275/300 nm. Ultrafiltration revealed that most of the NOM comprised fine material below 5,000 Da cut-off (<4% of the total) in the urban-impacted sites and the clean site at Chalk River, but the colloidal fraction (larger than 5,000 Da) was substantially higher in the contaminated water, with ∼18–26% of the total. The protein-like components in the contaminated Chalk River water were affected by ultrafiltration, but less so in the clean Chalk River sample and the urban-impacted waters. SPE preferentially removed the protein-like component in the contaminated Chalk River water (typically 89–95% signal decrease), but had a limited effect on humic- and fulvic-like components elsewhere. In conclusion, multiresponse fluorescence provided new information on the NOM quality from two contrasting sites, aided by ultrafiltration and SPE. These results are consistent with the in situ production of NOM in the Chalk River contaminated site, and natural production at the other sites.


Natural organic matterUltrafiltrationMultiresponse fluorescenceColloidal materialSolid-phase extraction

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryLaurentian UniversitySudburyCanada
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada