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Wastewater Organic Matter and Metal Effects on Aromatic Compounds in Soil

Project Number: 
Project Duration: 
23 months
June 1, 2006 to May 30, 2008
Institution of Principle Investigator while on this project: 
University of Arizona

Investigators (most current known information)

Associate Professor, Environmental Chemistry, Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, The University of Arizona, Shantz 429, Bldg 38, Tucson AZ 85721
TEL: +1-520-626-8220, FAX: +1-520-621-1647, Email:
Lecturer of Environmental Chemistry, Department of Soil & Water Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, PO Box 12, Rehovot 76100, Israel
TEL: +972-8-948-9384, FAX: +972-8-947-5181, Email:
Researcher, Department of Soil & Water Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, PO Box 12, Rehovot 76100, ISRAEL
TEL: +972-8-948-9912, FAX: +972-8-947-5181, Email:

Proposal Abstract

This project focused on developing methods and conducting experiments to assess the influence of cationic metals on the binding of hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs) to dissolved organic matter in wastewater (WWOM). Although we know that (i) cationic metals can form strong complexes with WWOM), (ii) WWOM is an important sorbent for HOCs, and (iii) WWOM, metals and HOCs all cooccur in treated wastewater, the nature of the ternary (metal-WWOM-HOC) interactions are still poorly understood. Improved knowledge of such interactions is particularly important in arid environments where treated wastewater is emerging as an important resource for reuse.

This project focused on addressing the ternary interaction of WWOM, metals and HOCs through a collaboration between the University of Arizona (PI Chorover) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (PIs Chefetz and Polubesova). The distribution of effort on this project was such that the University of Arizona (UA) group focused on developing methods for quantification and characterization of metal-organic complexes  including the influence of metal complexation on the size distribution of WWOM, and identification of WWOM fractions that preferentially participate in metal complexation. For this portion, methods included using high performance liquid chromatography interfaced with inductively coupled mass spectrometry (LC-ICP-MS). In addition, the UA group developed methods for quantification of trace organic contaminants in solutions containing various fractions of WWOM, which introduce significant potential interferences. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem focused on quantifying the role of metals on sorption-desorption of organic contaminants on WWOM using fluorescence spectroscopy. One graduate student at each of the two institutions (Selene Mena-Fernandez at UA and M. Sherman-Nakache at HUJ) focused their thesis research on this IALC project.


Articles in Journals

Polubesova, T., M. Sherman-Nakache, and B. Chefetz. 2007. Binding of pyrene to hydrophobic fractions of dissolved organic matter: effect of polyvalent metal complexation.  Environ. Sci. Technol. 41: 5389-5394.

Polubesova, T., Y. Chen, R. Navon, and B. Chefetz. 2008. Interactions of hydrophobic fractions of dissolved organic matter with Fe3+- and Cu2+- montmorillonite. Environ. Sci. Technol. 42:4797-4803.

Chorover, J., M.K. Amistadi, and S. Mena-Fernandez. 20xx. Coupling size exclusion chromatography with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for speciation of metals in natural water.  For submission to Environ. Anal. Chem.

Mena-Fernandez, S., and J. Chorover. 20xx. Complexation of trace organic contaminants by waste water organic matter as revealed by fluorescence spectroscopy and mass spectrometry analysis.  For submission to Environ. Sci. Technol.


Support for this project came from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service