Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 392, Issue 6, pp 1225–1230 | Cite as

Quantification of refractory organic substances in freshwaters: further insight into the response of the voltammetric method

  • François Quentel
  • Montserrat FilellaEmail author
Original Paper


A recently published method for quantifying refractory organic matter (often referred to as humic substances) in freshwaters was applied to a wide range of International Humic Substance Society (IHSS) humic compounds in order to (i) gain a better understanding of the mechanism of the voltammetric response which is the basis of the analytical method and (ii) provide guidance on choosing the optimal standard to be used. At the same time, the sensitivity of the technique has been increased by switching from the pulse mode initially proposed to the square-wave mode. The results obtained show that (i) differences in adsorption onto the electrode rather than differences in complexation strength are responsible for the differences in the intensity of the signal obtained for the different humic compounds, (ii) carboxylate, N- and S-containing groups do not play a role in the voltammetric signal.


Humics Fulvics Refractory organic matter IHSS SWV Mo(VI) Freshwaters 



We would like to thank Thomas Meinelt (Leibniz-Institut of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin, Germany) for the gift of HS1500.


  1. 1.
    Filella M (2008) Environ Chem Lett. doi: 10.1007/s10311-008-0158-x
  2. 2.
    Abbt-Braun G, Lankes U, Frimmel FH (2004) Aquat Sci 66:151–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Weishaar JL, Aiken GR, Bergamaschi BA, Fram MS, Fujii R, Mopper K (2003) Environ Sci Technol 37:4702–4708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Baron J, McKnight D, Denning AS (1991) Biogeochemistry 15:89–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    McKnight DM, Aiken GR, Smith RL (1991) Limnol Oceanogr 36:998–1006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    McKnight DM, Bencala KE, Zellweger GW, Aiken GR, Feder GL, Thorn KA (1992) Environ Sci Technol 26:1388–1396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    McKnight DM, Andrews ED, Spulding SA, Aiken GR (1994) Limnol Oceanogr 39:1972–1979Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    McKnight DM, Harnish R, Wershaw RL, Baron JS, Schiff S (1997) Biogeochemistry 36:99–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Volk CJ, Volk CB, Kaplan LA (1997) Limnol Oceanogr 42:39–44Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    van Zomeren A, Comans RNJ (2007) Environ Sci Technol 41:6755–6761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Wu FC, Evans RD, Dillon PJ, Cai YR (2007) Appl Geochem 22:1598–1605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Chanudet V, Filella M, Quentel F (2006) Anal Chim Acta 569:244–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chanudet V, Filella M (2007) Org Geochem 38:1146–1160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Filella M, Chanudet V, Quentel F (2008) Freshwaters: do ‘humics’ always represent 50% of NOM? In: Perminova IV, Kulikova NA (eds) Proceedings of the 14th International Meeting of the International Humic Substances Society, September 14–19, 2008, Moscow–Saint Petersburg, Russia, Humus Sapiens, Moscow, 2008, pp 151–154Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Aiken GR (1985) Geochemistry and isolation. In: Aiken GR, McKnight DM, Wershaw RL, MacCarthy P (eds) Humic substances in soil, sediment and water. Wiley-Interscience, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Thurman EM, Malcolm RL (1981) Environ Sci Technol 15:463–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Serkiz SM, Perdue EM (1990) Water Res 24:911–916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Swift RS (1996) In: Sparks DL (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 3. Chemical methods. Soil Science Society America, American Society of Agronomy, Madison, pp 1011–1069Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Quentel F, Elleouet C (2001) Electroanalysis 13:1030–1035CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kolthoff IM, Lingane JJ (1952) Polarography, vol 1. Interscience, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Limousin G, Gaudet JP, Charlet L, Szenknect S, Barthès V, Krimissa M (2007) Appl Geochem 22:249–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Chimie Analytique, UMR-CNRS 6521Université de Bretagne OccidentaleBrest Cedex 3France
  2. 2.Department of Inorganic, Analytical and Applied ChemistryUniversity of GenevaGeneva 4Switzerland

Personalised recommendations