Humic substances typically constitute 40-60% of the dissolved organic matter (DOM) in surface waters. However, little information is available regarding the metal binding properties of the nonhumic hydrophilic portion of the DOM. In this study, humic and nonhumic DOM samples were isolated from the South Platte River (Colorado, DOC = 2.6 mg??L-1, SUVA254 = 2.4 L/mg??m) using a two-column array of XAD-8 and XAD-4 resins. The three major isolated fractions of DOM, which accounted for 57% of the bulk DOM, were characterized using a variety of analytical tools. Proton and copper binding properties were studied for each fraction. The main objective of this work was to compare the structural and chemical characteristics of the isolated fractions and test models describing DOM reactivity toward metal ions. The characterization work showed significant structural differences between the three isolated fractions of DOM. The hydrophobic acid fraction (i.e., humic substances isolated from the XAD-8 resin) gave the largest C/H, C/O, and C/N ratios and aromatic carbon content among the three isolated fractions. The transphilic acid (TPHA) fraction ("transphilic" meaning fraction of intermediate polarity isolated from the XAD-4 resin) was found to incorporate the highest proportion of polysaccharides, whereas the transphilic neutral (TPHN) fraction was almost entirely proteinaceous. The gradual increase of the charge with pH for the three DOM fractions is most likely caused by a large distribution of proton affinity constants for the carboxylic groups, as well as a second type of group more generally considered to be phenolic. In the case of the DOM fraction enriched in proteinaceous material (i.e., TPHN fraction), the results showed that the amino groups are reponsible for the charge reversal. For low copper concentrations, nitrogen-containing functional groups similar to those of amino acids are likely to be involved in complexation, in agreement with previously published data.
Additional publication details
Characterization and copper binding of humic and nonhumic organic matter isolated from the South Platte River: Evidence for the presence of nitrogenous binding site